Saturday, September 01, 2007

Set-back for Pfizer in Lipitor matter

Pfizer lost its initial bid on re-issue in one of the Lipitor patents.

CNN reported:

On Aug. 15, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office dealt Pfizer a multi-billion-dollar blow. It upheld an earlier court ruling that had rejected Pfizer's bid to extend patent protection for its blockbuster statin, Lipitor, until June 2011.

John E. Calfee, who also does some consulting work for pharma firms and co-authored the forthcoming book, "Biotechnology and the Patent System: Balancing Innovation and Property Rights," says those stakes can be more than just the dollar value of lost sales.

Calfee said:

There are three parts to the stakes pharmaceutical firms have in maintaining a patent. First is the revenue. Second is the motivation to continue researching those drugs for new uses. Third is promotion.

Take statin drugs, including Lipitor. Despite their big sales numbers, they're vastly under-used.

I believe that Lipitor promotion has had a big impact on the total uptake of the statin drugs. Promotion prepares the patient for a talk with the doctor. There are millions of men and women in the U.S. alone who ought to be on a statin but are not.

Promotion is an important tool for getting these drugs to the people who would benefit from them.

When the patent expires, the promotion for that brand expires. When the Lipitor patent expires, we'll lose not only further research into Lipitor but also the promotion of Lipitor.

Promotion of Lipitor has the effect of promoting all statins -- not just for Pfizer but for all makers.

Calfee also said: Calfee: The core issue of reasonable patent length for new molecules is important. Economists don't have a good answer to the question of how long a patent should be.

In some cases, a 10-year patent life might be reasonable. In others, society would be better off if a patent went on for 20 years because there's so much valuable research yet to be done.

IPBiz says: If Jaffe and Lerner's Innovation and Its Discontents is any guide to what economists think, economists may not have many good answers in the patent area at all.

***See also

UPDATE. 30 March 09

In an odd overabundance of news

NBC Nightly News covered a statin [Crestor] with slight mention of polypill
ABC News covered polypill

NBC link:
["Statins are the medications of the future."]

Once-a-day heart combo pill shows promise in study
[ No price for the polypill has been disclosed, but its generic components cost only a total of $17 a month now and doctors expect the combo would sell for far less.

The study was led by Dr. Salim Yusuf of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and Dr. Prem Pais of St. John's Medical College in Bangalore, India. The findings were presented Monday at the cardiology college's conference in Florida and published online by the British medical journal Lancet.

The study tested the Polycap, an experimental combo formulated by Cadila Pharmaceuticals of Ahmedabad, India. It contains low doses of three blood pressure medicines (atenolol, ramipril and the "water pill" thiazide), plus the generic version of the cholesterol-lowering statin drug Zocor, and a baby aspirin (100 milligrams).]

Statin cuts risk of blood clots,


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