Fosamax leads 2008 patent retreat

Fosamax is dead! Long live generic Fosamax! Reporters took the osteoporosis drug's patent expiration today as an opportunity to remind us all that $20 billion worth of drugs will go off patent this year, cutting big-time into Big Pharma's sales. Merck, for instance, expects Fosamax sales to drop to at least $1.5 billion from $3 billion in 2007, and to erode further as time goes on.

BusinessWeek kindly provides a list of products that will fall off the patent cliff in 2008, along with manufacturer, indication, 2007 revenues, and expiration date:

  • Fosamax, Merck, osteoporosis, $3 billion, Feb. 6
  • Advair, GlaxoSmithKline, asthma, $6 billion, Feb. 12
  • Serevent, GlaxoSmithKline, $500 million, Feb. 12
  • Sonata, Wyeth, insomnia, $85 million, June 6
  • Effexor XR, Wyeth, depression, $3.7 billion, June 13
  • Lamictal, GlaxoSmithKline, bipolar disorder, $2 billion, July 22
  • Topamax, Ortho McNeil, epilepsy and migraine, $2.5 billion, Sept. 26
  • Casodex, AstraZeneca, prostate cancer, $1.2 billion, Oct. 1
  • Trusopt, Merck, glaucoma, $700 million, Oct. 28
  • Zerit, Bristol-Myers Squibb, HIV, N.A., Dec. 24

One strategy that more drug makers are using--including Merck with Fosamax--is creating so-called "branded generics." They're authorized copycats licensed to a generics maker. That way, the branded drug maker gets to reap some of the generics revenues rather than ceding them all to copycat drug makers. Watson Pharmaceuticals will sell a Merck-made generic Fosamax starting today, the company announced.

- check out Watson's release on its generic Fosamax
- read the trend article in BusinessWeek
- get more Merck-related details at CNN Money