Expired Patents Will Drive Up Generic Demand

Published Online: Thursday, December 1, 2005

Sales of generic drugs were estimated to reach a record $45 billion worldwide during 2005, and patent expirations on 6 different billion-dollar prescription drugs over the coming year should sweeten prospects for the generic pharmaceutical market even more in 2006, according to a new analysis by IMS Health.

All told, an estimated $23 billion worth of brand name drugs will lose patent protection during the next 12 months, fueling strong gains for generic products, IMS researchers said. According to Murray Aitken, senior vice president of IMS, the real question is whether the new generic forms of these products will take sales from other products in the therapeutic area as well as from the branded reference products.

Top-selling drugs expected to be subject to generic competition for the first time in 2006 include 2 leading cholesterol drugs: Zocor (Merck) and Pravachol (Bristol-Myers Squibb). Together, these 2 drugs posted $8 billion in worldwide sales in 2004, IMS officials said. Other billion-dollar drugs scheduled to lose patent protection during the coming year include Zoloft (Pfizer Inc), Ambien (Sanofi-Aventis SA), Lamisil (Novartis AG), and Zofran (GlaxoSmithKline PLC).

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