PHARMACY

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

BY Drew Buono

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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PHARMACY

Costco program delivers deep discounts to uninsured

BY Doug Desjardins

ISSAQUAH, Wash. Costco is enrolling up to 5,000 new members per week to its Costco Member Prescription Program that gives uninsured members deep discounts on hundreds of different prescription drugs.

The program launched at pharmacies last July and is now available in every state in the U.S. where Costco does business. “It’s kind of a unique program for our members who don’t have insurance,” said Costco VP of pharmacy Vic Curtis. “We work with our manufacturers and are able to offer members a discount through savings passed on either from the manufacturer or, in Costco’s case, from within our own margins.”

To qualify for the program, people need to be current Costco members and fill out a registration form confirming they don’t insurance.  To deliver the extra savings, Costco works with manufacturers to create a Preferred Drug List of branded and generic drugs that can be provided with a discount.

When filling a prescription for a program member, pharmacists check the list to see if the prescription is on it or search for a similar drug that serves the same need for less expense. “Our pharmacists have members check with their physicians to make sure a drug on the preferred list will work for them,” said Curtis.

Typical monthly savings on a 30-day supply of drugs is $15 but the savings vary. Curtis said the best example is a 30-day supply of Prevacid, which is available to program members for $101.17 at a cost savings of $49.58. On the lower end, members can save $7 on a one-month supply of Lunesta.

Curtis said Costco currently has 61,000 members in the program and hopes to enroll many more in the coming months. “Our goal is to eventually have 250,000 to 300,000 members enrolled in the program,” said Curtis.

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NextGen, Warburg look to partner on cancer drugs

BY Drew Buono

LONDON NextGen Bioscience and Warburg Glycomed are negotiating a deal to collaborate. Both are biotech companies focused on developing new drugs to fight various types of cancer.

Warburg Glycomed has a compound that is able to reprogram cancer cells by modulating their aerobic glucose metabolism, which affects their ability to grow. Warburg Glycomed has expressed keen interest in collaborating with NextGen in a recently signed letter of intent, and is confident that a deal can be arranged.

“These collaboration discussions with Warburg Glycomed represent progress on fulfilling our business goal to form international collaboration agreements with specialty research organizations,: Konstantinos Kardiasmenos, chief executive officer of NextGen, stated. “An alliance with Warburg Glycomed would strengthen both companies’ position to capture the phenomenal global market for therapeutic cancer agents, which is now reaching a volume of approximately $30 billion.”

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