PARSIPPANY, N.J. (AP) -- Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Wednesday that it has launched an authorized generic version of Pfizer Inc.'s cholesterol fighter Lipitor, the best-selling drug in history.
Lipitor lost patent protection Wednesday.
Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, will make the drug and supply all doses to Watson, which will then sell it in the United States. Pfizer will keep an estimated 70 percent of the price.
Pfizer, based in New York, is trying to retain as much revenue as possible from Lipitor. It has devised discounts and incentives for patients, insurers and companies that process prescriptions that will, at least for the next six months, make the brand name drug about as cheap as or cheaper than the generics.
Watson CEO Paul Bisaro has said he had thought Pfizer would retain about 25 percent of Lipitor users for the next six months, but now "it looks like it will be 40 to 45 percent."
Lipitor's annual sales peaked at about $13 billion. It had sales of about $7.8 billion for the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, according to Watson.
Watson is based in Parsippany, N.J.