Like the Blackmores deal, when one of nine Pfizer drugs is being dispensed, the guild’s computer system prompts pharmacists that patients are eligible for a support program.
One of the drugs included in the scheme is Pfizer’s cholesterol-lowering blockbuster Lipitor, for which more than 10 million prescriptions were filled last year through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme at a cost to the taxpayer of almost $600 million.
Pfizer will face competition from cheaper generic versions of the drug when its patent expires early next year.
Patients who sign up for the 12-week support program linked to Lipitor receive a cookbook and weekly emails containing health advice. Other Pfizer drugs with associated support programs are Champix, Xalatan, Viagra, Lyrica, Pristiq, Aricept, Celebrex and Effexor XR.
A pharmacist who did not wish to be named said: ”Pharmacists might get a short-term gain of $7 but they are putting patient information into the hands of a drug manufacturer who is obviously going to promote their products directly to that patient.
”It’s a back-door way of promoting and advertising.”