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TheStreet Open House

10 Popular Drugs Set to Lose Their Patents

By Melly Alazraki, DailyFinance

NEW YORK ( DailyFinance) -- The imminent arrival of the dreaded "patent cliff" has been haunting the pharmaceutical industry for years, and it's finally here. With patents on many blockbuster drugs about to expire, an estimated $250 billion in sales are at risk between now and 2015, according to data from EvaluatePharma.

Once drugs lose patent protection, lower-price generics quickly siphon off as much as 90% of their sales. For consumers, the savings from generics can be substantial, as this price table of the top 25 brand-name drugs with available generic counterparts highlights. According to pharmaceutical analyst Sophia Snyder at research firm IBISWorld, generics now average about 30% of the price of the brand-name originals.

In 2010, the pharmaceutical industry had sales of $860 billion worldwide, up 3% from 2009. Just 133 blockbuster drugs accounted for $295 billion of those sales -- about 34% of the market -- according to IBISWorld. Of those blockbusters, 13 are set to lose patent protection through 2013.

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Although the generic industry will benefit in the short term, it will also see a slowdown in revenue growth after 2015 because fewer blockbusters will be coming off patent for them to replicate, IBISWorld said in a recent report.

According to IBISWorld, the top five best-sellers set to lose patent protection in each of the next two years are:

Patent Expiring in 2011 Condition Company 2010 U.S. Sales
Lipitor cholesterol Pfizer $5,329,000,000
Zyprexa antipsychotic Eli Lily $2,496,000,000
Levaquin antibiotics Johnson & Johnson $1,312,000,000
Concerta ADHD/ADD Johnson & Johnson $929,000,000
Protonix antacid Pfizer $690,000,000

Patent Expiring in 2012 Condition Company 2010 U.S. Sales
Plavix anti-platelet Bristol-Myers Squibb /Sanofi-Aventis $6,154,000,000
Seroquel antipsychotic AstraZeneca $3,747,000,000
Singulair asthma Merck $3,224,000,000
Actos type 2 diabetes Takeda $3,351,000,000
Enbrel arthritis Amgen $3,304,000,000

Cholesterol fighter Lipitor held the title "best-selling drug" for a few years, and has been a major source of income for the world's biggest drug company, Pfizer (PFE). Lipitor (atorvastatin) was released in 1998, and by 2006 it had reached peak sales of $12.9 billion, accounting for 27% of the company's revenue. In 2010, with $10.8 billion in sales, Lipitor still accounted for 15.8% of total revenue, even with the addition of Wyeth's operations.

In 2008, Pfizer reached an agreement with Indian generics manufacturer Ranbaxy Laboratories. Ranbaxy will have a license to sell atorvastatin in the U.S. effective Nov. 30, 2011, and have exclusivity for 180 days before other drugmakers can enter the market. Watson Pharmaceuticals will also introduce a generic for Lipitor.

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