CLARITIN: FDA Gives Schering-Plough Six-Month Extension
Extending the wait for a less expensive, generic form of Claritin, the FDA has granted drug manufacturer Schering-Plough Corp. an extra six months on the patent of the world's best-selling allergy drug, honoring the congressional agreement to give pharmaceutical companies extended patent time if they test their drugs on children. The AP/Arizona Republic reports that the added time could amount to $1 billion in Claritin sales for the pharmaceutical giant, and assist Schering-Plough's launch of a new allergy drug before a generic competitor erodes its market share. Claritin boasted sales of $2.7 billion in 1999, but half-price generics are notorious for knocking down 80% of brand name sales within two years. PaineWebber analyst Jeff Chafkin said, "We all planned on them getting this extension, but it is still very important for Schering, and it will make a huge difference in launching their new version of Claritin," speaking of the undisclosed drug the FDA is anticipated to approve later this year. The extra six months means that the earliest Americans can expect to see a cheaper generic will be December 2002 (8/17). This delay may irritate some insurers as well as allergy sufferers; in 1998, Blue Cross of California filed a petition with the FDA asking that Claritin become an over-the- counter drug, lowering its costs from $60 to $17 ( California Healthline, 6/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.