Nexium, AstraZeneca

Nexium (esomeprazole magnesium)
Heartburn, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
AstraZeneca

Global Sales 2012: $3.994 billion
U.S. Sales 2012: $2,272 billion
Expiration Date: May 2014

AstraZeneca's ($AZN) patent situation is kind of like a sandwich, with Nexium making up the meat. Its blockbuster antipsychotic Seroquel went off patent last year, and sales have been plummeting. They were down another 31% in the second quarter to $438 million. In 2016, AstraZeneca will lose patent protection on its cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor. The statin was its top seller at more than $6.2 billion in global sales last year, but it is already seeing those undercut as doctors move patients from it to generic Lipitor. Right in the middle of that comes next year's patent loss of its popular stomach drug Nexium. The drug pulled in nearly $4 billion in revenue last year, although that was off 10%. Still, that amounted to 14% of the company's total branded drug revenue.

When Nexium does go off patent, an over-the-counter version of the drug is expected to make its debut, undercutting generic sales. But the name on the OTC package will be Pfizer ($PFE), not AstraZeneca. The U.K. company last year worked a deal to sell the OTC rights to Pfizer for $250 million up front, plus milestones and royalties. Pfizer just this month said it had hired ad agency Leo Burnett Worldwide to help it get the most of that deal.

AstraZeneca, meanwhile, doesn't have much going on in the near term to fill in behind Nexium. Its respiratory drug Symbicort, its second-best seller last year, is seeing growth, but in a competitive market. Sales of anticoagulant Brilinta/Brilique, which was pegged to be a blockbuster, remain thin. Last year, AstraZeneca and its partner in diabetes treatments, Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), staked $7 billion with a two-step buyout of Amylin Pharmaceuticals and its diabetes fighters Byetta and Bydureon. The two are sharing marketing and sales efforts for the category, as well as their hopes and dreams. And their hopes for a $1 billion boost for their diabetes partnership were popped recently when their Type 2 diabetes drug Onglyza failed to beat placebo in a key outcomes trial on heart risks.

For more:
Judge sweeps aside AstraZeneca shield against Nexium competitor
AstraZeneca drives back Nexium knockoff, at least for now
Gist of AstraZeneca's Q2 results: It could have been worse
AstraZeneca gets mixed results in Nexium patent fight with Hanmi

-- Eric Palmer (email | Twitter)

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Nexium, AstraZeneca