Top Brand-Name Drugs About to Fall of ‘Patent Cliff’

By Joseph Mandour on October 28, 2011

Patent Attorney Los Angeles – Some of the most widely-used and expensive brand-name drugs are soon to come off of their patents and go generic.

With almost $11 billion in sales last year, Lipitor, the largest drug to fall off what analysts call the “patent cliff”, will come off patent in November with multiple generic versions expected to be available by next June. Lipitor, which is prescribed to manage high cholesterol, is just one of many popular, pricey drugs whose prices are expected to plummet when their generic alternatives arrive on the market. Other major pharmaceuticals to come off patent in the near future include Plavix (for heart disease), Seroquel (for depression), and Nexium (used to treat digestive issues.)

Although the “patent cliff” is bad news for major pharmaceutical manufacturers such as AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Bristol-Myers Squibb/Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, many patients will finally be able afford the prescriptions they need to manage their conditions. Without generic competition, the brand-names are often too expensive for patients, even if they have insurance coverage. Some patients have resorted to purchasing drugs online, which often have turned out to be ineffective counterfeit knock-offs manufactured in China.

Howard Weintraub, a cardiologist at New York University, says that many patients on those drugs go to their doctors and beg for free samples. Others patients don’t bother to fill the expensive prescription, or if they do, they cut the dosage in half in order to stretch it out longer.

“People come in with their blood pressure not as well controlled, or they come in and their cholesterol’s all of a sudden mysteriously higher. And you realize, OK, the medicine hasn’t stopped working, but you also realize the medicine doesn’t work when it’s still in the bottle,” Weintraub commented.

Generic medicines already represent 70-80 percent of pharmaceutical sales, which is expected to grow larger in the future. Some marketing analysts believe that patent expirations over the last five years are one of the main reasons why Medicare spent $50 billion less than federal officials projected five years earlier.

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Posted in: Patent Registration