What a difference one patent ruling can make. AstraZeneca lost almost $1.3 billion in market value today after announcing that the European Patent Office yanked a patent covering its blockbuster asthma med Symbicort. Another Symbicort patent still stands, but it's under attack by generics makers, too.
That difference may be a short-term thing, though. At least one analyst thinks that the patent ruling--which affects Symbicort as a COPD treatment--won't have much effect on product sales. For its part, AstraZeneca says inhaled generics take longer to get to market--because they require a delivery device in addition to the drug itself, and in this case the delivery device has its own patent. Plus, patients switch to the copycat forms of these meds more slowly than with tablet meds.
FDA OKs AstraZeneca's Symbicort for asthma
The specter of generic competition grows
AstraZeneca lays out road map for recovery