Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Generic Drugs: Great For The Consumer, Bad For Big Business' Bottom Line

JB Reed/Bloomberg News
"Big Business" would be the pharmaceutical companies that wholly profit from the misfortune of the ill with an exclusive drug that one sole company manufactures and distributes. That's horrible. (coming from a consumer standpoint) I used to work for a health insurance company and I'd see these claims that come in for one single prescription that costs $400 dollars or more per month!! That's a shame. Can you imagine having a condition and needing this costly med with no insurance?! Or having a jacked up insurance policy with a huge upfront deductible, leaving you to pay an exorbitant amount out of pocket?! Reality for many Americans across the nation is to go without the proper healthcare and treatment. People are struggling to keep a roof over their heads, lights on and food in the fridge. C'mon now!!

With the pharmaceutical companies I kind of feel their pain. Your employees slaved for years to create this needed drug, millions or maybe even billions are put into research and testing of this drug. Your company perfects it with minimal side effects before any other company.. Yes. You should at the very least recoup on the costs it took to get to the point of this drug being available to the public. That's fair. But in the process, the public continues to hurt. Generics are a savior for many.

And I always wondered why some drugs have generics and others do not. Reading this NY Times article I found that companies place patent protection on their drugs. I am not sure of the length of time this protection remains in place, though I read somewhere that it could be up to 20 years!! And again, that is awesome for the manufacturer. Years and years of profit! That's great! 20 years is a nice run, I think. But once that run is over, (even though it was a gigantic, profitable run) these companies feel crushed as the money begins to trickle in as opposed to rush in, with the availablilty of comparable generics. **And the public rejoices*

From NY Times, Eli Lilly and Bristol-Myers struggle to cope:

Company earnings plunged 23 percent in the quarter, months after its biggest product, Zyprexa for schizophrenia, lost patent protection in the United States. The pain will intensify late next year, when the $5-billion-a-year depression drug Cymbalta goes generic.

Quarterly global sales of Zyprexa fell 73 percent, to $380 million. Sales of Cymbalta, now Lilly’s top product, jumped 22 percent, to $1.22 billion, from the period a year earlier.

Lilly’s quarterly earnings exceeded Wall Street forecasts. The drug maker, based in Indianapolis, said profit margins should improve after 2014, once the damage from patent expirations on its top drugs has abated. It also raised its 2012 profit outlook because the stronger dollar has reduced the cost of overseas goods used to make the company’s products.

The company earned $924 million, or 83 cents a share, down from $1.2 billion, or $1.07 a share, in the period a year earlier. Excluding special items, it earned 83 cents a share. Analysts had expected 77 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue fell 10 percent, to $5.6 billion.

Bristol-Myers reported lower quarterly sales and earnings, as cost-cutting and sales gains for newer drugs only partly offset the plunging sales of its Plavix blood clot preventer and Avapro blood pressure medicine, now facing generic rivals.

The company said it still expected a full-year 2012 profit, excluding special items, of $1.90 to $2.00 a share. That would reflect a decline of 12 to 17 percent from 2011, when Plavix was the world’s second-biggest-selling medicine. The drug lost patent protection in the United States in May.

Net income was $808 million, or 38 cents a share, compared with $1.31 billion, or 52 cents a share, in the period a year earlier. Excluding special items, Bristol-Myers earned 48 cents a share, in line with analysts’ expectations, according to Thomson Reuters.
Revenue fell 18 percent, to $4.44 billion.

Oh my!! You mean to tell me REVENUE FELL???! $4.44 BILLION!... $5.6 BILLION!!

..Meanwhile, some old lady with a fixed income of $10,000 a year is patiently awaiting a generic form of a once-exclusive drug to alter her daily life. I feel for the masses, not these super-rich companies.

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