Have you moved from Lipitor to its generic, Atorvastatin? Until June, many Part D plans (and employer plans) did not allow people to get the generic. Since June 1, things have changed and the price for Atorvastatin has dropped from over $100 for a one-month supply (10 mg) to $17.00 – the price at Costco without insurance.
Lipitor went generic last October – sort of. Until June of this year, when doctors wrote prescriptions for the generic, most Part D plans ignored the doctors’ orders and continued to provide the brand Lipitor, which cost around $150 for a 30-day supply. Perhaps this happened because supplies of the generic were limited, or perhaps because Part D plans were getting rebates from Pfizer, the maker of Lipitor. I’ll write about this soon because it’s a very interesting and complicated story.
From November 2011 through May 2012, only one company was allowed to make and sell Atorvastatin, and the retail price was somewhere between $80 and $120, depending on the Part D plan. As of June 1, more companies were allowed to produce the drug, and the price has come down – a lot. But again, what you pay will depend on your Part D plan.
I went to Medicare.gov and found that costs for Atorvastatin have indeed come down since I last checked in early-June. But some Part D plans seem to have negotiated prices similar to Costco, while others did not. And some plans call Atorvastatin a preferred brand drug, while others treat it as a generic.
Whether a drug is labeled as a brand drug or generic has cost implications for people who go into the donut hole. Medicare beneficiaries buying brand drugs in the donut hole get a 50% price cut, while people buying generics get just 14% off the retail cost.
There are 30 stand-alone Part D plans available in Arizona. Here are the Atorvastatin costs for five of them. You can see how widely the retail price and member co-pays vary according to the Medicare.gov Plan Finder:
|PART D PLAN||ATORVASTATIN
10 mg 30-day
|MEMBER’S CO-PAY||MONTHLY PREMIUM|
|Aetna CVS Pharmacy
|$87.64||$34||$26 + $320 deductible|
|$15.90||$15.90||$15.10 + $320 Deductible|
|$29.80||$4||$47.20 + $320 deductible|
New generics already available, or coming soon, include Plavix, Singulair, and Seroquel. People with a Part D plan who take these drugs will need to pay attention during the upcoming Annual Election Period (October 15 – December 7). They’ll need to make sure their Part D plan has the best pricing for new generics. And they should tell their doctor to change them to the generic for potential savings of thousands of dollars in 2013.
I’ve asked questions about Part D before, but I’ll ask them again. Why is Part D so complicated? And why are there over 1,100 Part D plans available across the country? Does this help seniors? Does this save Medicare money?