The specter of generic competition grows

We can officially call 2007 the year generic competition became a byword on the markets as well as in Big Pharma hallways. It's always first on the list of ills plaguing the industry (followed by slow-flowing pipelines; we'll get to that later). It's been cited in almost every media report about layoffs and restructuring. And it's safe to say that every one of the top drug makers is bracing for more. Some $23 billion in drugs go off patent in 2008, some of them the biggest names in pharma.

But let's take a look at the generic blows pharma took in 2007. Drugs accounting for $16 billion in annual sales went off patent, according to a report from IMS Health. That's more than 100 branded products. Among them:

  • Pfizer's antihistamine Zyrtec, $1.2 billion in 2006 sales
  • Pfizer's blood pressure drug Norvasc, $5 billion in 2006 sales
  • GlaxoSmithKline's blood pressure remedy Coreg, $1.7 billion in 2006 sales
  • GlaxoSmithKline's antidepressant Seroxat/Paxil CR, $1.2 billion in 2006 sales
  • Novartis' blood pressure drug Lotrel, $1.4 billion in 2006 U.S. sales alone
  • Sanofi-Aventis' clotting drug Lovenox, $2 billion in 2006 U.S. sales

It may be painful for Big Pharma, but not for generics makers. As we reported yesterday, Wall Street analysts are paying more attention to copycat companies like Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which has won more than one top rating recently. We suppose that bite out of Big Pharma's bottom line has to go somewhere.

- take a look at the off-patent situation
- read how drug makers are trying to protect sales
- see how Indian drug makers cashing in on off-patent drugs