USA Today, Wall Street Journal Examine Generic Drug Patents and Competition
USA Today and the Wall Street Journal today both feature several articles examining issues surrounding generic drugs. Summaries of the articles appear below:
- "Consumers Pay as Drug Firms Fight Over Generics": Drug companies are "finding it to their advantage" to file additional patents on many drugs just before their initial patents expire, a move that can "keep lower-cost generics off the market for years," USA Today reports in a cover story examining whether such tactics allow drug makers to "legitimately protec[t] discoveries on drugs they have spent years researching" or whether the new patent applications are designed merely to prevent competition and protect market share (Appleby/O'Donnell, USA Today, 6/6).
- "Battle Between Makers of Generics Delays Cheaper Drugs": Lawsuits and deal-making -- tactics often used by brand-name drug makers "facing patent challenges from generic companies" -- are now cropping up among generic drug manufacturers and delaying the production of lower-cost versions of many name brand medicines, USA Today reports in a profile of the lawsuit over generic versions of the heart medication Tiazac (O'Donnell, USA Today, 6/6).
- "As a Patent Expires, Drug Firm Lines Up Pricey Alternative": The Journal examines how AstraZeneca PLC has kept generic versions of its heartburn medication Prilosec, which retails for about $4 a pill, out of circulation for more than a year since its patent expiration through a "series of lawsuits and peripheral patent claims." Although the company has successfully thwarted generic competition so far, it has begun to market an equally expensive successor drug, Nexium, in order to maintain its market share when generic versions of Prilosec eventually become available (Harris, Wall Street Journal, 6/6).
- "How New Generics Can Cut Your Drug Bills": A "wave of patent expirations" on several popular prescription medications is "creating unprecedented opportunities for patients to sharply reduce their drug costs" while maintaining their level of treatment, the Journal reports. However, the Journal notes that many patients are not likely to learn of the generic alternatives available to them from their doctors, and drug companies are "working overtime" to prevent patients from easily switching medications (Hensley, Wall Street Journal, 6/6).
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