Lipitor has gone generic. Don’t get ripped off!

If anybody out there is taking Lipitor, they  need to get their doctor to write a prescription for Atorvastatin, which is the generic form of Lipitor.

Yesterday, I got a call from a client who picked up her husband’s prescription at the pharmacy. Betty’s husband, Harry, has been taking Lipitor for several years, and the co-pay has been around $45 for a one-month supply.  Harry usually gets a 90-day supply of Lipitor and the bill has been around $135.  But this time the bill was $270, so Betty called me to ask, “What’s going on?”

I knew right away what is going on because I have written previously about Lipitor going generic in 2012.  Atorvastatin is the generic name for Lipitor and it is a tier 2 generic, which means it would be $8 on Harry’s Part D plan. But Harry’s prescription is still for Lipitor, and when his wife picked up the 90-day supply, she was shocked by the $270 bill.  You see, Harry’s Part D plan has moved Lipitor from a “preferred brand” with a $45 co-pay to a “non-preferred brand” with a $90 co-pay for a one-month supply.

So instead of paying $24 for a 90-day supply of the generic, Betty paid $270 !!!  Why didn’t the pharmacy tell Betty about the generic option??? Why didn’t the Part D plan inform its members who take Lipitor that they should switch to the generic? Why didn’t Harry’s doctor tell him he could change to a lower cost generic?

I told Betty she should return the pills to the pharmacy and get her money back. I don’t know if this is possible, but she should give it a try. Then she needs to tell Harry’s doctor to write him a prescription for Atorvastatin.

Lots of people get a three-month supply of their prescriptions. This being the end of March,  a lot of people are picking up their first refills this year.  People taking Lipitor will be shocked by their bill and will wonder why it is so high. Many people may not be aware that Lipitor now has a generic substitute.

I just went on the Medicare.gov PlanFinder, and I see that some plans are not even covering Lipitor, which has a retail price of around $150 for a 30-day supply.  Harry’s plan does cover Lipitor, but doubled the co-pay by making it a “non-preferred brand“.  I tell my clients, “The plan would prefer that you not take that drug, so that’s why they charge you such a high co-pay”.

I guess the co-pay increase did it’s job by shocking Betty into asking “What’s up?”.  Now she knows.  I just hope it doesn’t cost her $270 to find out Lipitor has gone generic.

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One Response to "Lipitor has gone generic. Don’t get ripped off!"

  1. BajaDemocrats says:

    Thanks for the excellent information Denise. My insurance wouldn’t cover Lipitor at all, I’ve been taking a generic for Zocor for several years. In my checkup last Dec. my bad cholesterol count had gone up so my doctor doubled the dose from 20 to 40mg. I have to be careful to take it on a full stomach or I get stomach cramps. I’ll ask my doc to give Atorvastatin a try. He’s always said Lipitor was the “gold standard” for cholesterol control.

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