GENERIC DRUGS: Stymied by Brand-Name Competitors
Generic drugmakers, stung by the lobbying and advertising campaigns of their larger, richer name-brand cousins, have seen sales stall at mid-1980s levels, according to a new assessment presented this weekend at the Generic Pharmaceutical Industry Association's annual meeting. Schein Pharmaceutical's Thomas Culkin said, "The generic industry is no better off now than in 1986. Generics have stagnated in the marketplace." In addition to often successful attempts by companies like Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. to extend their patents on popular drugs, "catchy direct-to-consumer brand-name advertising" eclipses generic alternatives in the marketplace and even calls their effectiveness into doubt among consumers. And although more than $41 billion worth of drugs like Prilosec, Prozac and Claritin "will lose their patent protection" over the next decade, brand-name companies often develop newer drugs for the same medical condition, reducing demand for the generic. Michael Dey, vice chair of the industry group, said, "[W]e are facing and will continue to face challenges on all fronts: The state, federal and international levels and in legislative, regulatory and legal arenas" (Galewitz, AP/Dayton Daily News, 3/29).
New Teva Head
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, one of the country's largest generic drugmakers and a subsidiary of Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., is expanding from generic drugs into prescription pharmaceuticals. Teva's new CEO George Barrett said, "Any company that's going to be successful in the generic-drug business also has to be strong in the branded-drug business. It adds extra legs to the stool" (3/29).