Patent cliff to bring short-term boon to generic industry
NEW YORK — Look for a big surge in brand-to-generic drug switches at the pharmacy counter over the next year.
Pharmaceutical industry experts agreed that 2011 will bring a flood of me-too medicines to U.S. prescription dispensaries, thanks to a looming “patent cliff” that will see some of the industry’s biggest-selling blockbusters emerge from the shelter of their patent-protected sales exclusivity, and into the harsh light of generic competition for the first time. The change in status will upend established dispensing patterns for such therapeutic categories as heart and cholesterol medications, and will spawn a new sales race among generic drug makers.
For the branded pharmaceutical industry, “2011 is basically going to be a bloodbath,” observed Melissa Leonhauser, director of strategic marketing for SDI.
Products expected to lose patent protection in 2011
|PRODUCT||TOTAL Rx*||SEPTEMBER 2010 RETAIL SALES†|
|*In thousands; for the 52 weeks ended September 2010|
|† In millions||Source: SDI Health|
Among the branded drugs whose patent life is scheduled to expire is Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ Actos, a blockbuster medicine in the thiazolidinedione class of medications that treat Type 2 diabetes by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
Other big-name medicines that face the widely anticipated end-of-patent protection next year include Pfizer’s hugely successful cholesterol medication Lipitor, the world’s largest-selling prescription drug; Plavix, an antiplatelet compound marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis for the prevention of strokes and heart attacks; Zyprexa, an antipsychotic from Eli Lilly for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; and Aricept from Eisai and Pfizer, a centrally acting reversible acetylcholinesterase inhibitor to treat dementia.
Number of total prescriptions of products that lost exclusivity in 2010*
|TOTAL venlafaxine HCL||1,099.94||1,017.85||1,150.23||1,081.22||1,046.99||1,091.98||1,096.25||1,114.03||1,094.93|
|Generic venlafaxine ER||117.03||117.97||135.32||130.93||130.66||138.82||643.75||788.22||797.31|
|TOTAL tamsulosin HCL||958.41||888.36||1,045.04||1,018.33||1,016.12||1,069.99||1,067.40||1,098.23||1,074.53|
|Generic tamsulosin HCL||—||—||533.97||805.38||883.66||976.07||992.07||1,033.63||1,019.38|
|TOTAL losartan potassium||627.55||584.86||672.09||681.37||724.95||783.63||806.75||855.64||868.40|
|Generic losartan potassium||—||—||—||339.26||602.06||686.84||723.10||779.93||798.94|
|TOTAL losartan potassium/hctz||415.14||387.53||438.71||435.16||452.67||480.74||487.07||506.22||506.20|
|Generic losartan potassium/hctz||—||—||—||204.28||365.20||412.48||428.64||453.55||458.56|
|TOTAL pramipexole dihydrochloride||229.12||208.61||232.80||221.14||216.36||229.78||227.97||233.42||228.96|
|Generic pramipexole dihydrochloride||90.46||137.48||177.27||178.85||181.28||197.98||200.75||208.46||206.55|
|*In thousands||Note: Some totals in charts may be +/- 1 or 2 due to rounding||Source: SDI Health|
Those patent losses will come on the heels of what already has occurred in 2009 and 2010. Several major drugs already have been exposed to generic competition over the past year, including Effexor and Flomax.
Loss of patent protection for all these drugs will open a multibillion-dollar window of opportunity for generic suppliers. According to IMS Health, some 20 pioneer drugs that represent more than $100 billion in total sales are scheduled to run out their patent-protected market exclusivity by 2015.
Much of that impact will occur sooner than that. “Ninety-two billion dollars of products are going to go off-patent by 2014,” Doug Long, VP industry relations for IMS, declared in a presentation to chain pharmacy executives Aug. 30.
“Generics are now 75% of the market,” he added, “and this is [before] the patent cliff that happens between now and 2014, when you’re going to see six or more of the top 10 products losing patent protection.”
Generics also now represent 19% of total U.S. prescription sales, according to Long, and 81% of the total pharmaceutical market now is available for generic substitution, meaning that “the generic efficiency rate is about 92% in the marketplace,” he said. What’s more, Long added, “it’s still a very competitive market. Most of the major molecules have 10 different competitors, and price competition is very intense.”
NACDS, NCPA claim pharmacy victory after withdrawal of Medicaid program provisions
ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association heralded the withdrawal of two provisions from the Medicaid program that would have had retail pharmacies selling generic drugs at a loss.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cut provisions that defined average manufacturer price and determined calculation of federal upper limits. The NACDS and NCPA sued CMS in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in November 2007 to obtain an injunction against the provisions, which the court granted. In response, CMS revised its definition of multiple source drugs in October 2008, though the pharmacy lobby groups amended their lawsuit to block that as well, saying it was still against the law. CMS’ new rule removes that provision as well.
In a joint statement, NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson and NCPA EVP and CEO Kathleen Jaeger heralded the decision, saying the rule would have reduced patients’ access to pharmacies by cutting reimbursements, thus forcing retail pharmacies to sell generic drugs at a loss.
“We insisted that this policy was not appropriate,” the statement read. “Separately, we also have urged that policy-makers should recognize the ability of pharmacies and pharmacists to help improve health and reduce healthcare costs. We are gratified that this sense is reflected in the pharmacy provisions of the new healthcare-reform law. The new law contains provisions ranging from dramatically reducing the [accelerated manufacturing of pharmaceutical] cuts to advancing medication therapy management, through which pharmacists can help patients take their medications correctly, which is referred to as ‘medication adherence.’”
Roadside announces partnership to further ‘drive’ wellness programs
BOSTON Two companies have formed a partnership to provide services for long-haul truck drivers.
Sleep HealthCenters and Roadside Medical Clinic + Lab announced a partnership Wednesday to provide sleep medicine services as part of Roadside’s driver-wellness programs.
Roadside provides medical services, such as Department of Transportation-compliant physicals, drug testing, driver-wellness programs and sleep services for professional drivers on the highway and at company terminals. Sleep HealthCenters will support Roadside’s programs by providing education, professional diagnosis and treatment support, which will be incorporated into the driver-wellness program.
“You cannot effectively screen, test and treat sleep apnea without addressing and improving drivers’ overall health condition, such as weight, [body-mass index], stress and cardiac strength,” Roadside COO Rob Scheschareg said. “By providing continuous care for drivers for sleep, fitness, health and [Department of Transportation] compliance from the terminal to the highways, Roadside Medical is able to move the needle toward better driver health.”