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Rx suppliers prepare for patent-protection storm

BY Alaric DeArment

BOSTON —Drug companies stand to lose a lot of money in the coming years, as the worldwide value of drugs losing patent protection between 2009 and 2012 totals nearly $100 billion. This places the companies under continued pressure to ramp up the pace of drug development, according to the Tufts University Center for the Study of Drug Development.

On average, 3-in-10 new drugs that reach the market make enough money to sustain research and development, putting drug companies under more pressure to bring more drugs to market, according to the CSDD. Drugs worth more than $88 billion in worldwide sales will have come off patent during the 2009-2012 period, but bringing a new drug onto the market usually costs more than $1 billion and takes more than seven years from the time clinical trials begin.

“The simple fact is that product launches are not keeping pace with patent expirations,” CSDD director Kenneth Kaitin said in a statement.

Recently, the industry experienced a wave of large-scale acquisitions by companies facing the colliding problems of huge profit losses from patent expirations and anemic pipelines, including Pfizer’s purchase of Wyeth and Merck’s move to buy Schering-Plough. Both companies spent considerable sums for their purchases, but they got a lot of return.

In particular, Pfizer aims to become a top-tier biotherapeutics company by 2015 and now has 30 drugs in development for cancer, 11 for Alzheimer’s disease, 11 for inflammatory diseases and eight for pain. The market analysis firm Decision Resources predicted that by 2015, Wyeth’s pneumococcal disease vaccine Prevnar 13 will generate sales of $3.1 billion. Merck’s acquisition of Schering-Plough brought the number of drugs in its pipeline in late-stage clinical development to 18, including cardiovascular and psychiatric drugs. All in all, Merck’s pipeline shows the most promise.

“It looks like Merck’s going to be able to weather their patent expiration problems better with some of their pipeline projects,” Decision Resources corporate analyst Michael Latwis told Drug Store News. “Pfizer has a much bigger gap to fill.”

Another company with some big patent expirations approaching that hasn’t received as much attention is Eli Lilly. Instead of following the lead of Pfizer and Merck, the Indianapolis-based drug maker decided to pump money into its own research and development efforts. Lilly has a number of drugs for such diseases as Alzheimer’s and autoimmune disorders, but most of them remain in earlier stages of development, so Latwis said it was too soon to make a call on Lilly’s approach.

“Lilly has a deep pipeline; it’s just earlier-stage,” Latwis said, adding that Lilly would not likely contribute much in the near term, but that it was “something to keep an eye on.”

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Survey finds shoppers with a plan spend most money

BY Allison Cerra

CHICAGO Coupon clippers and shoppers that plan their excursions to the supermarket are more likely to spend more money, according to a Henkel survey.

Henkel, a manufacturer of such brands as Dial soap, said that those who go to supermarkets with the intent to shop and save yield more profit than carefree shoppers. On average, coupon clippers spent more than $7,100 last year. What’s more, Henkel added, these shoppers accounted for 31% of spending on packaged goods in 2009, even though they only make up 26% of U.S. households.

Another interesting fact, the CPG maker noted, is that shoppers with a plan also are less likely to shop at new stores.

The survey was baed on tracking of about 40,000 households performed by ACNielsen and Information Resources Inc.

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Bayer aspirin quick release crystals

BY Michael Johnsen

CVS had this citrus-flavored Bayer aspirin quick release crystals clip-stripped within adult dentures. And while this product isn’t the 81 mg of aspirin recommended for daily consumption to prevent a second heart attack (it contains 850 mg in each powder pouch), there is still a very strong need for this kind of easily stored/quickly administered aspirin product for seniors.

Sufferers of any heart attack are recommended to chew and swallow aspirin just after they’ve dialed 911 and called for help. As the first aid for heart attacks, aspirin makes platelets less sticky and can minimize blood clot formation and prevent further blockage of the artery.

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