Eisai to cut Aricept costs with move to India

What's a drugmaker to do when its lead product falls off the patent cliff? If you're Eisai, you move manufacturing to India. The company plans to shift production of its Alzheimer's drug Aricept to the subcontinent in the first such move by a Japanese pharma company, Reuters reports.

The blockbuster Aricept accounts for 40 percent of Eisai's revenue. But that truckload of sales is about to shrink, with Aricept falling off patent in the U.S. shortly, and in Japan and Europe by 2012. To keep patients on board, the company needs to compete on price. Hence the move to India, where Eisai expects it can cut Aricept production costs by about half.

The drug will be turned out at a new plant in Andhra Pradesh. Eisai is aiming to export Aricept from India to Japan, the U.S. and Europe as early as 2011. Meanwhile, the company is also preparing to produce its ulcer drug Pariet in India. That drug goes off patent in the U.S. in 2013.

Plus, the company has been slashing Aricept prices in Asian countries in a bid to boost volume. Like GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi-Aventis, Eisai wants to get its products to poorer patients, in an effort to increase accessibility--and grow sales. No doubt, lower-cost production would help in that effort.

- read the Reuters story

ALSO: Generics maker Teva Pharmaceuticals has agreed to suspend litigation over a compound patent for Eisai's popular Alzheimer's drug Aricept, effectively ending Teva's bid to manufacture a generic version of the drug before the patent expires in November. Report