Launch of Generic Prilosec Sought
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NEW YORK (AP) _ Three drug companies have joined forces in a bid to launch a generic version of the blockbuster ulcer medication Prilosec which could potentially save consumers and businesses billions of dollars.
Andrx Corp. and GenPharm Inc. will relinquish their six-month, co-marketing exclusivity for a generic form of Prilosec to Kremers Urban Development Co., known as KUDCo, for a share of the profits.
Last month, KUDCo was the only one of four companies that make generic drugs _ including Andrx and GenPharm _ to win a patent infringement suit against Prilosec’s manufacturer, AstraZeneca PLC.
On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave final approval to KUDCo’s version of Prilosec, which goes by the generic name omeprazole. KUDCo couldn’t say when it would launch their version of the drug but said it will go out even if AstraZeneca decides to appeal the judge’s ruling. KUDCo could owe AstraZeneca significant amounts of money if it loses on appeal.
``We have looked at the judge’s decision and are even more confident in our legal position,″ said Laurie Nelsen, a spokeswoman for KUDCo. ``We plan to launch in the near term. We are working to get it out as quickly as possible.″
The six-month patent infringement trial was closely watched by drug executives, consumer groups and legislators because Prilosec had become the lightning rod for criticism over high prescription drug costs. Last year, Prilosec was the world’s second biggest selling drug with revenues of $5.7 billion.
Prilosec’s cost had become such an issue that last year 18 governors took the unusual step of sending a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson asking him to approve a generic version because the delay was costing consumers and states $6 million a day.
In a statement, Thompson said, ``The FDA’s action represents a win-win for patients all across America. For those who are successfully taking this prescription, it means potential savings and for those who could not afford the brand name drug, it means greater access to a successful medication at a lower cost.″
Andrx and GenPharm will initially receive 15 percent of KUDCo’s Prilosec profits but their share will dwindle to 6.25 percent over an unspecified time.
Andrx shares rose 21 percent, or $3.25 a share, to $18.70 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market. AstraZeneca shares were down 5.5 percent, or $2.06 a share, to $35.49 in late trading on the New York Stock Exchange.