J&J fights Teva with generic Risperdal

It's a watershed moment: Risperdal has gone generic. The Johnson & Johnson antipsychotic med now has copycat competition from Teva Pharmaceutical, which got the final FDA go-ahead yesterday. As soon as the agency gave its OK, Teva started shipping. And no wonder it was ready to go; it has 180 days of market exclusivity, that golden period when a generics maker has no other copycat competition and so the sticker price remains fairly high. Lower than the branded version, of course, but not as low as it will go when other generics makers jump into the market.

But wait a minute. J&J quickly struck a blow against that exclusivity. It launched its own authorized generic to compete with the Teva version. If its drug is going to sell for a lower price, why not capture some of that lower-priced revenue, too? After all, J&J has a lot to lose on a Risperdal generic. The branded version sold to the tune of $2.5 billion last year. It's not J&J's biggest drug, but still a major contributor to the drugmaker's income statements with 6 percent of company-wide sales. And Risperdal's follow-up, Invega, didn't exactly hit the ground running.

It's the end of an era for Risperdal. We'll be playing Taps more and more often for blockbuster meds as the sun sets on their patent protection. Some 11 times this year, to be exact.

- read the Wall Street Journal Health Blog post