Thursday, August 28, 2014

CBS News on August 28 covers "forced switch" related to drug Namenda

Namenda ( memantine; 3,5-dimethyladamantan-1-amine. an adamantane derivative ) is a drug marketed by Forest for the treatment of Alzheimers. CBS network news on August 28, 2014 did a story on a "forced switch" created by Forest, making patients who were using the previous formulation change over to Namenda XR, by stopping production of the previous drug. Jon LaPook presented the story, which suggested that the motivation was the continued patent coverage on Namenda XR.

Forest had made an announcement on February 14, 2014: Forest Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE:FRX), a leading, fully integrated, specialty pharmaceutical company largely focused on the United States market, today announced that it plans to discontinue the sale of NAMENDA® (memantine HCl) 5 mg and 10 mg tablets effective August 15, 2014. Forest has notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of this decision. The oral solution of NAMENDA and once-daily NAMENDA XR® (memantine HCl) extended-release capsules will continue to be available. Both NAMENDA and NAMENDA XR are indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease.

Six years ago, LaPook did a story on the promise of Namenda. New Alzheimer's Drug Shows Promise

It was of interest to note that commercials on CBS following the story included for Levemor (Novo Nordisk) and for Brisdelle (Noven, low dose paroxetine).

From the CBS story:

Fifty-four-year-old Michael Hitch of Maryville, Tennessee, has early onset dementia and says he is helped by an Alzheimer's medication called Namenda. The drug is due to go generic next year.

But Forest Laboratories, the company that makes Namenda, plans to stop the sale of the version that Hitch takes at least six months before a less expensive, generic product could become available.


The purpose of a forced switch is "to get patients over to this new product as fast as possible," said David Maris, a stock analyst with BMO Capital Markets who covers pharmaceuticals. Thus, when the patent ends on the old product, "patients are already on the new product and there's no existing product left."

"All of a sudden you don't have that cliff, you don't have a drop off in sales like you would otherwise," Maris said.


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