PHARMACY

Wyeth announces launch of own generic version of Protonix

BY Adam Kraemer

NEW YORK Wyeth on Tuesday announced the U.S. launch of its own generic version of Protonix (pantoprazole) in response to December’s at-risk launch of a generic version by Teva Pharmaceuticals.

“Compound patents, like that infringed by Teva, represent the foundation of pharmaceutical innovation, a critical underpinning in bringing important new medicines to patients,” said Bernard Poussot, president and chief executive officer for Wyeth. “We believe the Protonix compound patent is strong and we will vigorously pursue our litigation against Teva and other infringing generics. Going forward, we will continue to seek an injunction against any infringement of this patent, as well as monetary damages, including lost profits, from Teva.”

The patent on Protonix is not set to expire until July 2010. Wyeth and Altana Pharma AG—recently acquired by Wyeth’s business partner Nycomed—sued Teva and Sun Pharmaceuticals for patent infringement based on Teva’s and Sun’s filing of applications seeking Food and Drug Administration approval to market generic versions of Protonix patent expiry.

The filing of the initial lawsuit had stayed final FDA approval of Teva’s generic until Aug. 2, 2007, and Sun’s until Sept. 8, 2007, but on Sept. 6, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey denied the brand name companies’ motion for preliminary injunction. The Court did not rule on the validity of the patent, but rather concluded that, based on the limited record before it, Wyeth and Nycomed were not entitled to a preliminary injunction. Teva had agreed to refrain from shipping additional quantities of the drug—following its initial launch—until the end of the standstill period, which expired on Jan. 22.

The release of Wyeth’s generic—and the competition it creates—will be beneficial for both consumers and drug retailers, but Goldman Sachs’ John Heinbockel stated on Tuesday that it was especially good for retailers with associated PBMs, such as CVS’ Caremark. “Not only will this incrementally drive generic penetration higher, but with multiple competing products on the market, procurement costs should fall temporarily benefiting gross profits,” he stated.

“Medco has said that generic Protonix would add between 8 cents and 10 cents to profits in 2008. This would translate into roughly $35 million of pretax earnings,” Heinbockel continued. “We would expect Caremark to be somewhat similarly impacted. On CVS’ share base, this would represent about 1.5 cents in EPS. There would also be some benefit on the retail side, as drug retailers typically make $2-$4 more in gross profits per script on generics than brands.”

Wyeth, along with its business partner Nycomed, have started distributing the generic this week through Prasco.

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PHARMACY

Boom in pharmacy openings leads to shortage of pharmacists

BY Drew Buono

ALEXANDRIA, Va. and ST. LOUIS, Ill. Pharmacies are booming in business and as a result new stores are being built at a rapid pace, so much so that there aren’t enough pharmacists to fill the new job openings, according to published reports.

According to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, there were 3,600 full-time openings for pharmacists throughout the nation last year reported by 37,000 member stores.

The reasons for the shortage, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association, are changes in insurance policies and federal regulations, which have made drugs more available to people. Also, the number of prescriptions being dispensed has grown from 2 billion to 3.2 billion in the last decade.

In Illinois, the state is trying to solve the shortage by opening more pharmacy schools. “I think a lot of new schools coming on board here will help alleviate the problem,” Phil Medon, dean of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy, said. “We haven’t had any graduates, yet, but long-term expansion at existing schools—plus new schools—are designed to help alleviate the shortage.”

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MTBC receives Microsoft partner honor

BY Drew Buono

SOMERSET, N.J. MTBC, an information technology company has received the distinguished Gold Certified Partner status in the Microsoft Partner Program. The company focuses on revenue cycle management and electronic medical record solutions.

As a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, MTBC has demonstrated expertise with Microsoft technologies and platforms. MTBC’s IT staff has successfully completed a series of examinations demonstrating the company’s competency and aptitude in utilizing and delivering Microsoft’s advanced technologies. MTBC gains access to a rich set of tools designed to help its physician clients realize improved billing and practice management solutions.

“We are very pleased to have attained Microsoft Gold Certified Partner status,” said David Rosenblum, president of MTBC. “Our Microsoft gold certification further distinguishes us from our competition. It will assist us as continue to leverage technology and deliver Internet-based revenue cycle and practice management services that enable medical providers to streamline and increase collections, while reducing associated costs.”

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