Crestor (AstraZeneca)
Patent expiry: July 2016

2012 sales: $6.253 billion
2011 sales: $6.622 billion
Change: (6%)

Crestor remains king of the cardio hill, but time is running short for the cholesterol-reducing med. The blockbuster is already withering under the heat of generics in Canada, and with a recent patent settlement, it will face copycat rivals by May 2016. AstraZeneca ($AZN) recently struck a deal with Actavis ($ACT) and Egis to allow them to begin making generics 67 days ahead of Crestor's losing its pediatric exclusivity. Facing other patent losses and a bum short-term earnings picture, AstraZeneca has been trying to hold onto as much Crestor revenue as it can for just as long as possible.

Sales of the drug were actually up 3% in the U.S. last year to $3.164 billion but down 9% in the rest of the world to $3.089 billion. They were off 11% in Q1 2013, including a 1% nick in the U.S. One factor pressuring sales is that Pfizer's ($PFE) Lipitor, the long-time rival to Crestor, has lost patent protection, so cheap generics of that drug have flooded the market worldwide.

AstraZeneca had hoped that long-term research would demonstrate that Crestor had a performance edge over Lipitor. But though the SATURN study showed that Crestor beat Lipitor at lowering cholesterol, the AstraZeneca drug wasn't any better at keeping arteries clear--and that's the result AstraZeneca had been aiming for.

Special Report: The 15 best-selling drugs of 2012 - Crestor

For more:
AstraZeneca zaps another Crestor generic threat with Actavis settlement
AstraZeneca beats back would-be Crestor copycats


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