Ranbaxy launches Zyprexa copy in Spain

In case anyone had a doubt, here's proof that generics makers are chomping at the bit to compete with Eli Lilly's antipsychotic drug Zyprexa, which goes off patent in the U.S. in October. Ranbaxy Laboratories announced that it had launched its version of the treatment in Spain on Monday, the first day after Lilly's exclusivity expired.

Ranbaxy estimated that Zyprexa's market in Spain amounted to $210 million. It's planning to promote the generic version to doctors and to pharmacies "with immediate effect," the company said in a press release. "The generic alternative will bring about significant savings for patients and the Spanish Health System, which has been encouraging generic prescription as a means to make healthcare affordable," Ranbaxy's Spanish manager, Pere-Lluís Sala, said in a statement.

Given recent numbers from IMS Health--which showed that uptake of generic drugs had accelerated, with branded meds losing up to 80 percent of their market share within six months--Ranbaxy could find that its copycat Zyprexa penetrates the Spanish market quickly.

Of course, it's loss of exclusivity in the U.S. market that has Lilly most worried; until then, Lilly could hold on to much of its Zyprexa revenues, which amounted to more than $1 billion for the first quarter, or 22 percent of the company's overall sales. Lilly's major European markets for the drug--including Spain--accounted for $1.4 billion of Zyprexa's 2010 sales; in the remaining countries, Zyprexa loses patent protection in September.

- get the release from Ranbaxy
- see the Economic Times story