Sunday, September 10, 2006

Chicago Tribune on extended release drugs and patent expirations

Bruce Japsen wrote in the Chicago Tribune: So-called patent extenders do not extend the life of the patent but often debut about the time the original drug comes off patent. Consumers can easily spot them because they have letters trailing the drug's name such as XL, which means extended release, or CR, for controlled release, or SR, sustained release.

One interesting observation:

In the first half of this year Sanofi-Aventis spent $110 million on consumer ads, largely aired on TV, for its Ambien CR, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. In contrast, less than $6 million was spent during that same time on Ambien, Nielsen figures show. [IPBiz query: how much was spent on consumer ads for Ambien in previous years?]

And some quotes:

"What gives us pause is the clinical advantage may not be enough to justify the higher price [than the generic]," said Steve Basiago, a pharmacist and vice president of trade relations for Walgreen Health Services, a subsidiary of Deerfield-based pharmacy giant Walgreen Co. "The curious thing is the new dosage form comes out at the time when the original brand's patent expires," Basiago said of patent extenders. "If [drug companies] knew about this new technology, why didn't they accelerate the development earlier on. It causes pharmacists to roll their eyes."

Of Wellbutrin:

A 30-day supply of Wellbutrin XL (30 pills) is retail priced at $125, Walgreens said. "But the generic for regular Wellbutrin is 100 pills for only $60, so the generic (bupropion) is still half the price of the XL version, even at taking three pills a day," a Walgreens spokesman said.


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