Patent Expirations to Cause a Plummet in Drug Prices

Cheaper generic versions of medications are on their way as 7 of the 20 blockbuster drugs will lose their patent protection by the end of next year. Although a blessing for patients, this is a matter of grave concern for the pharmaceutical industry which is largely dependent on high profits for research and development.

Cholesterol fighter Lipitor and blood thinner Plavix are the top 2 amongst the world’s 20 best-selling drugs, and it will not be long before they lose their patent protection. In the US alone, Lipitor and Plavix are consumed by nearly 4.3 million and 1.4 million patients, respectively.

The world’s top selling medication, Lipitor, is due to lose its patent this year in November.

An antipsychotic drug, Zyprexa, will see patent expiration in October 2011 while Plavix loses its patent status in May next year. Enbrel, a drug for Psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, will make way for generics in October 2012.
The end of 2015, is expected to witness a plummet of nearly $225 billions’ worth of annual global sales as drugs will go off patent.

Generics will make a impressive entry in several therapeutic areas, including treatments for HIV, depression, diabetes, asthma, bipolar disorder, hypertension, and high triglycerides.

Experts reckon that approximately 120 brand names will cease to dominate the market over the next decade.
While a generic drug can cost up to 80% less than a branded version; patients, taxpayers, businesses, and health insurance companies are expected to save billions.

US health experts are of the opinion that a considerable number of people will soon be able to afford to pay for their medications. In the world of prescription medicines, the USA alone is one of the most expensive countries.
Today in America, despite having private health insurance or Medicare cover, many people are not able to get their prescriptions because they simply do not have the money.

According to the FDA, studies have demonstrated that generic drugs are comparable with the branded ones. Although some argue that generic versions have uneven safety records, the medication is just as effective provided the active ingredient is the same. However, bad manufacturing practices or any other reasons could still cause the same contamination in branded drugs.

Some experts have had a difference in opinion on this. According to a publication in Annals of Neurology, scientists at Johns Hopkins University performed a study which demonstrated that a generic version of an anti-epilepsy drug carried a 10% risk that peaked concentrations at different times in the body.

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