Report: Drug stores may benefit from patent expiries

NEW YORK Patent expiries on blockbuster branded drugs could mean huge profits for some retail pharmacy chains, according to published reports.

Bloomberg quoted investors as saying that CVS and Walgreens could see at least a 20% increase in profits as drugs with more than $100 billion in sales, such as Pfizer’s Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) and Sanofi-Aventis’ and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Plavix (clopidogrel bisulfate), face generic competition, particularly between 2011 and 2013.

Lipitor and Plavix were the first and third top-selling branded drugs in 2008, with respective U.S. sales of $7.8 billion and $4.9 billion, according to IMS Health.

CVS CFO Dave Denton reportedly said that it's too early to make predictions because profits will be determined by pricing, and prices are unknown. "The generic pipeline is robust," Denton said in an interview with Bloomberg. "The percentage boost is not something we have analyzed to that level of depth. Pricing is very competitive and we can?t know for sure what it will look like at that time."

Echoing that sentiment, Wade Miquelon, Walgreens CFO, was quoted as saying, Generic drugs "will definitely help us, but to that magnitude, considering there are other things that play in, I would hesitate to give any guidance. There are lots of moving parts in this business and different people factor them in different ways."

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