Generics set to undercut blockbusters from Merck, Novartis and Bristol-Myers

Merck building
Merck has four meds—totaling $3.8 billion in sales—susceptible to generics this year.

Several blockbusters are set to take a nosedive this year as patent losses hit Novartis, Merck & Co., Bristol-Myers Squibb and other top pharma companies.

Dickson Data has compiled a list of major drugs losing their IP protection this year, and standing at the top is Novartis’ Sandostatin LAR with $1.6 billion in annual sales. Used to treat acromegaly and severe diarrhea and flushing associated with carcinoid syndrome, the drug will quickly face generic erosion from a slew of companies, including Teva, Sun Pharma, Sagent Pharmaceuticals and Wockhardt.

Behind Sandostatin LAR is Merck’s antibiotic Cubicin, a key prize in the New Jersey pharma giant’s $9.5 billion purchase of Cubist Pharmaceuticals back in 2014. The drug currently tallies $1.17 billion in sales, according to Dickson, and is set to face cheaper rivals from Hospira, Teva and Crane Pharma, FDA records show.

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Merck faces another blockbuster loss, too: Its cholesterol med Vytorin, with $1.12 billion in sales, comes in fourth place, according to Dickson. Bristol-Myers’ HIV drug Reyataz stands in third place with $1.14 billion.

Branded drugs tend to lose 90% of their sales after multiple generics make it to market, according to the firm. The copycats are typically 80 to 85% cheaper than the branded originals.

Although not a blockbuster like others on the list, Eli Lilly’s ADHD med Strattera rounds out the top five drugs facing a patent expiration, Dickson found, with annual sales just shy of $700 million. Zydus, Aurobindo, Sun Pharma and Mylan are among the companies seeking to grab a piece of that drug’s annual haul.

Merck’s antibiotic Invanz and antifungal med Cancidas are also set to lose patent protection for the New Jersey pharma giant; all told, the drugmaker has four meds—totaling $3.8 billion in sales, or 10% of its total haul—susceptible to generics this year.