Lipitor: How Far Should Pfizer Push The Pill?

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Case Details:


Case Code : MKTG140 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 500;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 500 + Shipping & Handling Charges extra


Pharma and Biotech
Case Length : 27 Pages
Period : 1995-2006
Organization : Pfizer Inc.
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : USA, Europe
Industry : Pharmaceuticals


The case is about Pfizer's blockbuster anti-cholesterol reducing drug, Lipitor, the largest selling pharmaceutical brand in the world. Despite Lipitor being a late entrant in the statin market, it managed to become the market leader due to the aggressive marketing strategy adopted by Pfizer. However, Pfizer's marketing of Lipitor came under intense scrutiny, when in March 2006 some labor unions in the US sued Pfizer for alleged off-label marketing of Lipitor. Pfizer also faced a class action lawsuit from some consumer advocacy groups regarding its promotional activities that were targeted at women and the elderly.

Pfizer was also accused of withholding information about the potential side-effects of Lipitor. Lipitor was also the subject of controversy regarding its allegedly over-zealous direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising.

In addition to this, the case also discusses the concerns regarding the slowing down of Lipitor sales, the delay in launch of the Torcetrapib/Lipitor combination, the ongoing patent litigations with generic manufacturers like Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. over Lipitor, and the expected generic competition from substitutes like Pravachol and Zocor, which had gone off-patent.


Understand the nature of the global market for statin drugs and the major players.

Understand the issues and concerns with regard to Pfizer's marketing of Lipitor.

Understand the legal and business challenges faced by research based global pharmaceutical companies.


  Page No.
Lipitor Marketing -Under A Cloud 2
Background Note 4
Lipitor -The Super-Blockbuster 5
Illegal Marketing? 12
More Problems for Lipitor 14
Pfizer on the Marketing Offensive again 17
Outlook 19
Exhibits 15


Pfizer , Lipitor (Atorvastatin), Direct-to-consumer (DTC) Advertising, Class Action Lawsuit, Off-label marketing, Patent Litigation, Cholesterol-reducing drug, Statins Market, Zocor (Simvastatin), Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited, Marketing Ethics , Torcetrapib, Consumer Activist Advocacy Groups, Food and Drug Administration(FDA), Dr. Robert Jarvik

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