Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Drug patents, lemmings, and urban legends

A post in medcitynews, titled Drug patents expiring in 2017? It’s all smoke and mirrors , has within the beginning text:

Once upon a time, reporters could definitively track down what drug patents would expire in a given year. Like lemmings, the medicines ran straight off the proverbial patent cliff. Generic manufacturers swooped in en masse and the inventor would lose up to 90 percent of its market share.

[There is also a picture of chess pawns falling off a rock.]

Although this lemming-post appears in the year 2017, the myth of the lemmings was dispelled in 1983.
See for example the 2008 IPBiz post Patent reformers: lemmings or lemming-hoaxers? which noted

Of the lemmings --> the Disney film makers faked the entire sequence using imported lemmings (bought from Inuit children), a snow covered turntable on which a few dozen lemmings were forced to run, and literally throwing lemmings into the sea to show the alleged suicides. [Wikipedia]

Although the thrust of the medcity article may be about biologics:

But Big Pharma is not going down without a fight, and for every tactic available to small molecule manufacturers, there are many more ways to stall generic biologics, known as biosimilars.

one also has the text

In an email to MedCity News, Yali Friedman, founder of DrugPatentWatch.com, said many less tangible advantages also apply.

While these ‘evergreening’ strategies cannot entirely block generic entry, they can still provide an advantage for the branded firms. For example, enhanced formulations may be preferred by consumers and can therefore continue to drive branded sales after generic entry. Also, because the branded manufacturer has intelligence on prescription patterns which generic entrants do not, they may be able to use this knowledge to seek approvals for additional indications.

The article did not get into the Teva / Copaxone story, wherein Teva transitioned customers from the 20 mg dose (the subject of the Supreme Court case, lost by Teva) to the three times a week dosage.
Copaxone is an interesting composition related to a combination of components, and defined more by its molecular weight than by its exact molecular formula.

As background

Survey evidence of Feldman/Lemley criticized; the story of Copaxone

AND of "evergreening" [ lifecycle management ] efforts that did not work so well

Teva loses on 40mg Copaxone (for MS) at PTAB


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