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| Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn

Millions of people use prescription medications daily for a wide array health issues from asthma to high cholesterol to migraines. And the cost of those medicines is about plummet.

When drug companies develop a new drug, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), typically grants exclusive rights to the company for a set period of time. When that time expires, other companies are able to make the same drug and the end result is an influx of cheaper generic versions.

A generic drug is defined as “a drug product comparable to brand/reference listed drug product in dosage, strength, mode of administration, quality and performance as well as intended use.” Simply put, a generic drug is a branded drug that uses a different name.

The key benefit is that generic drugs are less expensive than branded versions by 20 to 80 percent.

Over the coming months, seven of the world’s best-selling medications are scheduled to go “off patent.” In doing so, brand-name drugs lose out to generic versions which slashes costs in favor of patients. In fact, a flood of generics is expected to continue for the next decade, as more than 100 brand-name prescription drugs lose market exclusivity.

A prime example involving a patent expiration is the drug Lipitor – a cholesterol lowering drug – which lost patent protection just last week. Pfizer plans to aggressively market the drug in the first six months of competition against generic manufacturers. Ranbaxy Laboratories and Watson Pharmaceuticals (WPI) are both offering a generic form of Lipitor. Only two generics are permitted during the first 180 days. When other generics roll out, around June, prices are really going to drop.

In the coming months other popular drugs including Lexapro (anti-depressant), Singulair (asthma) and Plavix (blood thinner) will also lose their patents.

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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