Me-too drugs now a tough sell

One of pharma's business strategies may be nearing a dead end.  As drug pipelines began to trickle instead of flow, drugmakers turned to tweaking existing drugs as a way to get new products onto the market. But health insurers, who've become ever more vigilant about pushing lower-cost drugs, are getting skeptical, Dow Jones reports. So-called "me too" drugs are about to face a tougher market.

One example: Johnson & Johnson's Invega. It's an antipsychotic that's not markedly different from J&J's super-successful Risperdal. The latter is about to go off patent, though, so J&J did what so many other drugmakers have done: Created a new-and-improved version, hoping to capture patients for the brand-name Invega instead of losing them to generic Risperdal. But Invega hasn't managed to convert the masses, in part because insurers won't put it on their lists of most-preferred drugs. Another? Pristiq, a tweaked form of the antidepressant Effexor. "We don't think those opportunities are really going to fly," Deutsche Bank pharmaceutical analyst Barbara Ryan told the news service. "I think managed-care sees them for what they are, extending the franchise."

- read the story at CNN Money

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