Medicines

“Hard-switch” strategy foiled


Plans by a drug company to “hard-switch” patients to a new formulation of one of its old drugs before its patent ran out has been thwarted by a New York federal court.  Actavis who make the Alzheimer’s drug memantine (Namenda) intended to cease distribution of its old drug, effectively forcing patients on to the new formulation. However the court ordered that distribution continue, noting that Actavis’s chief executive, Brent Saunders, had described the purpose of the hard switch as anticompetitive in a presentation this year. In the judges ruling Saunders was quoted as telling investment analysts, “If we do the hard switch and we convert patients and caregivers to once-a-day therapy versus twice a day, it’s very difficult for the generics then to reverse-commute back, at least with the existing [prescriptions] . . . It just becomes very difficult and is an obstacle that will allow us to, I think, go into to a slow decline versus a complete cliff [in terms of Namenda revenue].”

 

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