Generic drug companies taking more chances in releasing patent-protected drugs

NEW YORK Generic drug companies are increasingly trying to gain an early advantage in challenging lucrative drug patents and this has been strengthened by favorable court rulings for them, according to the Associated Press.

The generic companies are gaining a huge share of the market of these drugs by launching their generic version before the patent expires on the brand. The companies believe they can either win the court case or even if they lose, make enough in sales to still turn a profit from an at-risk launch.

The most recent example of such a launch occurred when Teva released a generic version of Wyeth’s heartburn drug Protonix. That patent isn't due to expire for three more years, but in December, Teva launched its generic version over the course of several days, before ceasing shipments as part of a deal. Protonix sales reached $1.9 billion in 2007.

This process of challenging patents will continue as generic companies see the huge profits they stand to make by risking an at-risk launch of a generic drug.

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