The company: Abbott Laboratories ($ABT), Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA)
Patent expiration date: Sept. 20, 2013
Estimated Global Sales 2012: $835 million
The scoop: Abbott Laboratories has already had a taste of what's to come next September when its cholesterol drug Niaspan goes off patent. Sales of the drug are declining well before its patent expiration date because of questions about its effectiveness. Experts dialed back their blockbuster expectations for Niaspan last year after a government-funded study was stopped 18 months early. Adding Niaspan to statin treatment didn't improve outcomes compared with statin therapy alone, early results showed. The study also noted a slight boost in stroke rates among Niaspan users--data that could just be a chance finding. The drug did ultimately make about $1.2 billion by year's end, according to IMS Health. Still, prescriptions dropped off as doubt in the medical community grew. And in March, Watson Pharmaceutical ($WPI) applied for approval of a generic version of Niaspan. Niaspan sales declined by 5% in Q3; the drug brought in $232 million.