Namenda (memantine)
Company: Actavis
Disease: Alzheimer's disease
Global 2013-14 sales: $1.5 billion
U.S. patent expiration date: April 2015

Last October, when announcing second-quarter sales for 2013, new Forest CEO Brent Saunders said the company would be rejigging its strategy to prepare for Namenda's patent expiration. After all, the drug was a moneymaker, with sales rising 7.8% that period to $396.3 million.

He wasn't kidding. That December, he launched Project Rejuvenate, a restructuring plan to generate $500 million in cost savings by the end of the 2016 fiscal year. Forest also grabbed Aptalis Pharma for $2.9 billion, a move Saunders said would yield about 78 cents per share in fiscal 2015, and picked up Saphris, a former Merck ($MRK) antipsychotic that it planned to relaunch. Later, it sold itself to Actavis ($ACT) for $25 billion.

But while those moves may have decreased dependence on the Alzheimer's blockbuster, none of them helped preserve the growing revenue Namenda was churning out at the end of its patent life. For that, the company launched an extended-release version of the med in June, later making a controversial decision to discontinue production of the original in an attempt to force patients over to its IP-protected successor.

But things haven't gone exactly as planned. In September, supply issues for XR got in the way, and a couple of weeks later New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman dubbed the move illegal with a lawsuit. "A drug company manipulating vulnerable patients and forcing physicians to alter treatment plans unnecessarily, simply to protect corporate profits, is unethical and illegal," said Schneiderman in a statement to the media.

And a federal judge apparently agrees. Last week, a New York judge ordered Actavis to keep making the original version--at least, for now.

For more:
Actavis plan to stop making original Namenda derailed by court
Actavis agrees to keep making original version of its Alzheimer's drug for a while
NY sues Actavis and Forest for 'monopoly' on Alzheimer's drug
What's a $2.9B deal + increasing sales equal? One enthused new CEO at Forest

-- Carly Helfand (email | Twitter)