Pfizer faces first 2017 patent loss as Pristiq generics crash the party

Pfizer faces a challenging year on the patent loss front, starting with the generics of its antidepressant Pristiq now hitting the market.

Mylan today said it had launched its copycat of desvenlafaxine extended-release tablets, in 50 mg and 100 mg doses. India’s Lupin also has its version on the market and a slew of other generic makers, including Sandoz and Teva’s new Actavis unit, have approvals.

Pfizer has estimated it will have about $578 million at risk this year, but Mylan, citing IMS Health data, pointed out that the drug brought in $853 million for the 12 months through January 2017.

Pristiq itself was a drug launched to protect Pfizer sales from the patent loss on a preceding antidepressant, Effexor. Pristiq was first developed by Wyeth before it merged into Pfizer in 2009 to create the drug giant it is today.

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Pfizer will take hits from generics both in the first quarter and the last, when its blockbuster erectile dysfunction med Viagra finally falls in the U.S. to generic competition. That will happen in December, putting Pfizer's $1.148 billion in U.S. sales at risk. However, both Teva and Mylan have struck deals with the drug giant to launch generics ahead of the final patent loss, and will pay royalties to Pfizer.

Pfizer’s Pristiq and Viagra are among a number of important drugs that will lose their patent protections this year, a list that also includes Eli Lilly’s Viagra competitor Cialis, as well as Velcade, Sustiva and others.