What is the 'patent cliff'?

Pharma-watchers throw around the term "patent cliff," and folks start running for cover. But what, precisely, is the drug industry afraid of? Thanks to a new forecast from IHS Global Insight, we can all apply numbers to our fears--at least to the ones that apply to 2009.

More than 100 pharma patents are set to expire by the end of this year alone. Many of those are not so newsworthy. But 13 of them are, and they include GlaxoSmithKline's herpes treatment Valtrex, bipolar remedy Lamictal, and migraine drug Imitrex; Johnson & Johnson's epilepsy/mood drug Topamax; Forest Laboratories' antidepressant Lexapro; and Roche's transplant drug CellCept.

Overall, however, there are two companies most likely to be hard-hit by this year's cliff, Global Insight concludes: GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer. Novartis and Takeda are close behind. But there's one caveat--one ray of hope-filled sunshine--the consultancy believes that just a few of the drugs falling off that cliff this year have enough market potential for generic drugmakers to pursue them in a big way. We're not sure how they arrived at that conclusion, but they're the experts.

- check out PharmaGossip's post
- read the PharmaTimes story