Pfizer, the world’s leading pharmaceutical company that produces Viagra and Lipitor, has turned out to be out of its element in Korea’s generic medicine.
According to pharmaceutical research firm Ubist, the accumulated out-of-hospital prescription amounts of Korea Pfizer’s major generic products in the first three quarters of this year turned downward except for “Norvasc V.”
Norbasc V, the generic of Exforge (Amlodipine+Valsartan) co-developed by Pfizer and Novartis, recorded 5.95 billion won ($5.43 million) in the accumulated out-of-hospital prescription in the first three quarters, up 20.2 percent from 4.95 billion won a year earlier.
Otsuka Korea’s platelet aggregation inhibitor, Pletaal’s generic Cilo V, recorded 413 million won, down 19.6 percent from a year ago, and MSD Korea’s anti-asthma Montelu v, the generic of Singulair, also plunged 45.7 percent, from 272 million won to 148 million won, over the period. Besides, generics, including Clo V, Gapraton, Losar V, Olme V, and Irbe V, failed to hit 100 million won worth in their accumulated sale in the first nine months.
Pfizer made an official entry into the Korean generic market by introducing its generic brand Pfizer Vitals in 2012. It signed a partnership contract with then LG Life Sciences (now LG chemical), in which LG Life Sciences was responsible for production and winning approvals and Pfizer was in charge of sales, but the collaboration has failed to generate significant repercussions in the market.
Market watchers here say, however, such an outcome had been fully expected, pointing out that Pfizer has launched products depending only on its brand power and did little to market them in earnest.
Pfizer released five to 10 products right after its entry into the Korean market under the slogan of “quality generic,” but failed to put additional drugs on the market since the latter half of 2013. The number of bioequivalence test, which a pharmaceutical company conducts before releasing a new generic product, totaled 13 from 2012 to the first half of 2013. The number, however, stood at zero from the latter half of 2013 to 2014, and reached only one in 2015.
Last year, they voluntarily withdrew their products, including Losar V and Valsa V. Although there are differences by product, many of Pfizer’s generic products failed to stay in the market for three years.
“There are many domestic pharmaceutical companies which offer generic products, and the competition is fierce in the generic pharmaceutical market. Doctors must have a reason to switch to an international generic product, but they might have felt difficulties finding such reasons," an industry executive said. “Actually, few domestic pharmaceutical makers appear to be conscious of Pfizer as a worthy competitor.”
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