Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Key concepts: Blockbuster drugs & the Patent Cliff

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
Blockbuster drugs and the patent cliff are two terms defined in E.D. Zanders (2011) The Science and business of drug discovery: Demystifying the jargon.
Blockbuster drugs, such as Lipitor®, Plavix® and Levaquin®, are the world’s best-selling drugs. The“patent cliff” refers to the expiration date of patent protection and the potential loss of revenues arising when Generic Drug companies begin to manufacture the drug whose patent protection has expired.
Remember that patents grant an inventor, or his or her assignee(s), exclusive rights to market, manufacture, sell or license their newly discovered drug for a period of 20 years. Once this period of exclusive rights expires, it’s the patent cliff, as Generic Drug companies begin production of the same formula drugs under generic name.
This is exactly what happened to Pfizer’s Lipitor®, whose patent expired in November 2011, and which is now marketed under the generic name atorvastatin by several Generic Drug companies, at a fraction of the Lipitor® price.

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