Today is the end of an era folks. Lipitor, the #1 selling branded medication in the world is going off patent. This means, instead of the $115 a month Pfizer has been charging, it is now a race toward the bottom for generic manufacturers to produce and sell it for hopefully $4 a month.

Despite Lipitor’s wild popularity, as you can see below, either 96 or 98% of people (depending on whether or not you have prior heart disease) who take Lipitor see no benefit. It does do what it says– it lowers your cholesterol. But prolonging your life and increasing the quality of your life is much more complicated than just lowering your cholesterol. Here are the numbers for:

Those without heart disease (just high cholesterol):

For those with a heart disease diagnosis:

Taking chronic medications like Lipitor is quite similar to receiving vaccines. You receive vaccines to not only protect yourself, but to also protect society. At the individual level, Lipitor is a very bad investment. At the population level, a very small percentage of Lipitor takers are helped. As you can see, if you’re a gambler, it’s not a very good bet to take Lipitor. And if you look at the entire population of people, less than 4% of those taking Lipitor will actually be helped.

This is modern medicine folks, bottled up and sold via daytime television. 

And by the way, see that chemical structure up there. That’s called atorvastatin. It’s also called Lipitor. If anything changes in that chemical structure, it’s fundamentally different and can no longer be called atorvastatin. So if any of you are wondering if a generic is better/different from a branded medication. It’s simply not. If a generic medication were different/better, it would be a fundamentally different chemical compound. And that applies to all medications and vitamins. Don’t let marketers fool you that there’s a benefit to spending $111 more a month on a branded drug.