...don't even ignore 'em.
-- Samuel Goldwyn

Friday, March 11, 2005

What's Nex?

You can't make this stuff up. Major drug companies only get a few years of exclusivity for their prescription products, then, by law, the drug goes generic, and gets much cheaper. But for the past few years the pharmaceuticals have developed a workaround. For instance, AstraZeneca's Prilosec was about to go "off patent," so they tweaked the formula and introduced Nexium. Mega marketing campaign; kept their market share. There are lots of examples of this practice. It's so common, it's promoted by consultants. Like: Shering's exclusivity on Claritin was about to expire, so they gave it a chemical tweak. Eureka! Clarinex. Mega marketing campaign, etc. But what they did next takes the cake: They sued the manufacturers who were about to introduce the Claritin generic drug...for patent infringement. See, when you take Claritin, or its generic version, your body makes Clarinex. They lost, but they tried. What's nex? Sue the patients for organic patent infringement? Nah...that's ridiculous. Isn't it?

P.S.: Rather laugh than cry? Check out JibJab's new drug commercial parody.

3/14/05 Afterthought. Full disclosure: I'm a Prilosec user, for most of the past eight years, in the aftermath of an ulcer. About a year ago, a gastroenterologist prescribed Nexium for me, after a flareup of ulcers caused by pain medicine. I asked her, as she prepared to insert a scope down my throat or from the other end--I don't remember which now; why Nexium instead of continuing with Prilosec, why's Nexium better? "Well," she said, "it's stronger..." and then she kind of backed off. I was worried about the cost, of course, and I'd already read that there wasn't a major difference between the two. I tell you this to explain why I even bothered to write about the drug biz.

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