PHARMACY

Sun creates potential early challenge to Wyeth’s Effexor

BY Drew Buono

PHILADELPHIA Wyeth Pharmaceuticals is about to be hit by a generic launch, according to published reports. Wyeth’s antidepressant drug, Effexor, is on pace to have sales exceed $3.7 billion, but Sun Pharmaceuticals has discovered a way to challenge one of the patents to the multibillion-dollar drug and will be allowed to market a generic much sooner than Wyeth had expected competition.

Sun has applied to the Food and Drug Administration to sell a drug with the same active ingredient as Effexor XR, but the drug will be available in a tablet, rather than the capsule form of Wyeth’s version of the drug.

FDA approval of what is likely to be a lower-priced drug from Sun might come when patent protection for Effexor’s active ingredient, venlafaxine, runs out in June 2008. Patent protection for the capsule formulation expires later. Sun’s different formulation should allow it to sidestep Wyeth’s patent rights, and Wyeth already has told Sun it won’t sue for patent infringement.

Bank of America estimated the Sun version of Effexor XR could take 10 percent to 15 percent of the market share for the drug. That would represent more than $500 million in lost sales annually for Wyeth.

Wyeth has most likely played down the impact of the Sun version of Effexor XR because, for one, the Sun pills are unlikely to be certified by the FDA as the exact equivalent to Effexor XR—because of the different formulation. As a result, Sun’s product won’t benefit from state laws that require pharmacies to automatically substitute generics for branded drugs. The laws require generics to be exact copies, including the same formulation. For Sun to get its pills into patients’ hands, doctors would have to write new prescriptions specifically for the Sun product, not Effexor XR.

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LG debuts home health-monitoring in a cell phone

BY Drew Buono

CALGARY, Canada The Home Health Monitoring Solution is a new handheld device developed by LG Electronics allows patients with chronic illnesses to send such information as their pulse, blood pressure and glucose levels to their physician wirelessly, according to published reports.

The goal is eventually to add the technology to cellphones, the same way photography and music capabilities have been added. The product is designed to help patients with illnesses that need constant monitoring. It could also be useful for seniors with limited mobility and for patients who live in rural areas. By constantly keeping track of someone’s medical data it would provide a greater help to the patient and physician monitoring the illness.

The first stage of tests for the three-year project will begin next month. It will involve monitoring blood pressure, pulse and temperature. Down the road, glucose levels and other blood chemistry markers will be added as features.

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Senate votes to extend current SCHIP legislation through March 2009

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Senate on Tuesday approved a bill unanimously that will extend the State Children’s Health Insurance Program through March 2009, according to reports. The House of Representatives plans to look at the issue before the end of the year.

This extension will end a battle for now with President Bush, who had twice vetoed the bill, including the most recent veto last week. Bush vetoed the program the second time because he felt the second version was too similar to the first and would cost too much money as well as shift children from the private marketplace to government run programs.

The bill also would stop a scheduled 10 percent pay cut for Medicare doctors for six months and provide a 0.5 percent increase instead. The health legislation costs about $6 billion, but was paid for by savings in other health programs.

The program currently covers about 6.6 million poor children.

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