Generic: Epoetin Alfa
Company: Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ)
Patent expiration date: Aug. 20, 2013
Estimated Global Sales 2012: $1.41 billion
The scoop: The drug, used to treat anemia in certain patients with kidney failure, HIV, or cancer, has been a successful product for Johnson & Johnson, but not without some issues. There have been ongoing questions about health risks such as stroke, blood clots and even death, when Procrit has been used at higher doses. That prompted the FDA in 2007 to put dosing restrictions on it and sister drug Epogen from Amgen ($AMGN). Their labels have been updated several times since. Procrit also is at the center of a pending whistleblower lawsuit that contends Johnson & Johnson defrauded Medicare by offering kickbacks to health-care providers for prescribing Procrit. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show competition from drugs like Aranesp from Amgen, from whom J&J licensed Procit, have eroded Procrit sales. They are down from $2.2 billion in 2009 and as much as $4 billion 10 years ago. So far no knockoffs of the biologic have materialized, suggesting Johnson & Johnson may be in a better position than some companies when the patent expires later next year. It needs some good news. Its colossal Phase III failure this year with its Alzheimer's drug bapineuzumab just led it to drop the ax on 130 jobs, most of them at its R&D operation in South San Francisco.
Alzheimer's failure spawns 130 job cuts at J&J
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Did anemia drug giants game the system to rake in billions?
Medicare affirms rule expected to erode Epogen sales