How Much? 'Evergreening' And Drug Costs In One Swiss Town

For several years, the practice of evergreening has been a contentious topic. The term refers to patent extensions that are based on minor changes in a drug and are often employed when a patent is about to expire and modifications are used to claim a newer version of a drug has been hatched. This can allow a drugmaker to seek extended patent protection and keep the cash register ringing. The practice has prompted complaints that drugmakers exploit the strategy simply to charge higher prices for so-called follow-on drugs that offer little added benefit. South Africa, for instance, wants to change its patent laws to make the practice more difficult. For their part, drugmakers argue their patent modifications reflect substantive enhancements. A new study, meanwhile, finds an extra $40 million was spent in lieu of generics in one scenario in Switzerland. Specifically, the study in PLoS Medicine identified prescriptions for eight follow-on drugs that were prescribed by hospital and community pharmacists in Geneva between 2000 and 2008. They calculated the market share score for all prescriptions of the originally patented drug, follow-ons and generic versions. And they examined databases to analyze the costs of replacing brand and follow-on drugs with generics. The drugs studies included antihistamines, such as Clarinex; the Lexapro antidepressant; the Nexium hearburn pill; cholesterol-lowering pills including Zocor; sleeping pills such as Ambien and the Lyrica seizure medicine. T...
Source: Pharmalot - Category: Pharma Commentators Authors: Source Type: blogs