Patent expiry: September 2012
2012 sales: $4.417 billion
2011 sales: $5.665 billion
Sometimes companies just get lucky, like Novartis ($NVS) has with Diovan in the U.S. Ranbaxy Laboratories, which has the exclusive right to sell a generic version of the blood pressure drug, has yet to win regulatory approval for its version, even though the patent expired last September. That fact actually allowed Novartis to report profit growth in the first quarter.
Generic combos of Diovan are already on the market, and Novartis recently said generics of the monotherapy will hit in the third quarter. Novartis has predicted generics will undermine its U.S. sales this year by $1.5 billion. Despite the delay, it will still hurt, but if Novartis can hold on to roughly $3 billion in sales next year, Diovan could still be among the bestselling cardio drugs in the world.
As luck would have it, the Swiss drugmaker now finds itself investigating reports that one of its employees was affiliated with a study of Diovan as a statistician without revealing his ties to the Swiss healthcare giant. If true, it would raise questions about bias.
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