Another Pfizer blockbuster bites the dust as Celebrex generics roll

Look out, Pfizer--the generics are here. On Wednesday, Teva ($TEVA) and Mylan ($MYL) both launched versions of the company's arthritis med Celebrex, meaning Pfizer ($PFE) is about to watch the sales decline of yet another blockbuster.

Each of the companies is rolling out generics of the $2.56 billion U.S. seller at strengths of 50 mg, 100 mg, 200 mg, and 400 mg, they said. With generics makers usually pricing their products 30% to 80% lower than their branded counterparts, the Pfizer stalwart--its fourth-best-seller--is in for a top-line slide.

Pfizer has a March court decision to thank for the impending hit. Last March, a U.S. patent office reissued a key IP shield on the drug, extending the company's market exclusivity through the end of 2015. But a year later, a U.S. court struck that decision down, opening Celebrex up to generic rivals. Bad news for Pfizer, where Celebrex trails only Lyrica, the Prevnar franchise and Enbrel in the company's sales ranks--and Celebrex generates the vast majority of its global sales in the U.S.

The pharma giant has watched the patent cliff spell doom for a top product more than once, of course. Heavyweight Lipitor saw its sales pummeled by low-cost competition after losing protection. Though Viagra still has a lock on the U.S. market, it's facing generics overseas.

And while the company is working to whip its pipeline into shape, it's lately seemed to be late to every party: Its PCSK9 candidate is currently the furthest away from the market, for example, and it's beginning to dabble in immuno-oncology well behind peers Merck ($MRK) and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY).

That's one of the reasons the company has been scouting out deals--like the whopper of a proposed merger that AstraZeneca ($AZN) shot down earlier this year. Some analysts say they haven't ruled out the possibility that Pfizer comes back for another pass at its British peer, while others have listed Actavis ($ACT)--despite that company's own recent agreement join forces with Allergan ($AGN)--as a backup target.

- read Teva's release
- read Mylan's release

Special Reports: Top 10 pharma companies by 2013 revenue - Pfizer | Top 10 generics makers by 2012 revenue - Teva - Mylan