Ever wonder what the most successful US patent in history has been? Well, if you gauge a patent by the amount of money that it makes for its creator, then the answer is pretty clear: Lipitor (patent #4,681,893).
Lipitor is a cholesterol-lowering drug. Cholesterol in and of itself is not a bad thing. In fact, it is necessary for our survival. However, things like poor diet choices and lack of exercise can cause cholesterol levels to become too high. Unfortunately, many of the foods that are common in the American diet, like butter and margarine, fatty meats, and some dairy products, can lead to high cholesterol. In turn, high cholesterol increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. On the flip side, there are other foods that can help lower it, like fruits and vegetables, but these unfortunately are a lesser part of most Americans’ diets.
So, that leads people to a situation where their cholesterol levels become elevated. Changing diet and exercise habits can help bring it back toward normal, or there is another option – drugs. Pfizer developed the drug Lipitor to do just that.
The Pfizer Company began in Brooklyn, NY, in 1849. Cousins Charles Pfizer and Charles Erhart were the founders. Today it is still headquartered in New York City, with its research headquarters in the somewhat nearby, Groton, CT. Over the years Pfizer has been a leader in the development of many drugs, but it was with Lipitor that they found their gold mine.
In the beginning, though, it did not appear that this would be the case. Lipitor is in a group of drugs called statins. While still in production, other companies had beaten Pfizer into the statin market. In fact, at the time of its release in 1997, there were already three statins on the market that were generating sales of over $1 billion per year.
So, entering the market appeared to be a tough proposition. However, Pfizer had one advantage it could use – a 1996 study showed Lipitor to be far more successful than the other statins on the market at reducing bad cholesterol. Armed with that knowledge, doctors chose to prescribe Lipitor over the rivals. Very quickly it became the #1-selling statin drug. In fact, it became the world’s bestselling drug ever. Sales continued to boom, and they peaked in 2006 at $12.6 billion. This one drug was providing somewhere between a fifth and a quarter of the company’s total income.
Unfortunately for Pfizer, the patent expired on November 30, 2011. Now generic rivals can be and have been brought to market. As a result, sales of Lipitor have declined significantly (along with their once ubiquitous commercials). Still, there is no denying the success it had. In its 14 ½ years on the market, sales reached somewhere in the neighborhood of $125 billion, making it the most successful patent, buy sales figures, in history.
But we know that Lipitor and other super patents are the exception. Many patents never make it to market. Of those that do, many more will make little or no money. Still, having a patent is something to celebrate. That is what our business, US Patent Services, is based on. We offer all kinds of products to celebrate the receiving of a patent. If you are a business or individual who has had one (or more) successful patents, we offer top of the line commemorative items to serve as a tribute to the success. If you are on the other end with a patent that has made little or no money but still proud of your design, we also offer much smaller and less expensive items to serve as mementos for you too. Either way, we’ve got you covered.