Will Warner Chilcott score with last-minute tablet change?

Here's a new twist on the old keep-generics-at-bay strategy. Warner Chilcott ($WCRX) has scored its Doryx acne tablet to make it easier to split into smaller doses--and it's arguing that the new tablet style should apply to any generic versions, too, as the Wall Street Journal reports. If the FDA agrees, then potential Doryx copycats will have to remake their versions, giving the Irish company a temporary reprieve from cheaper competition.

In a petition filed at the FDA, the company contends that approving the previous tablet style--with one score instead of two--"would raise public health concerns." Patients might be prescribed a fractional dose based upon the scores on Warner's branded tablet, but then find themselves unable to properly divide a generic version to fit.

As the WSJ notes, drugmakers have pursued plenty of anti-generic tacks, including minor formulation changes--lotions to creams to ointments, for instance--and small dosage adjustments. Some have gone so far as to corner the market on necessary ingredients. And, of course, every branded drugmaker worthy of the name goes to court to fight generic challengers. If Warner succeeds with its scoring ploy, who will be next?

- read the WSJ story