These Big Pharma Companies are About to Fall Over a Patent Cliff with Key Drugs

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) has owned exclusive rights under patent law to produce and market the world’s top-selling drug “Lipitor” (which has produced over $8 billion in U.S. sales alone) for more than the last decade, but things are set to change soon, as the company’s protection for the drug is set to expire this November.

Pfizer’s pending loss of protection with Lipitor is just one example of a slew of drugs produced by brand-name pharmaceutical companies that will also lose patent protection in the coming months. Later this year Eli Lilly (NYSE:ELY) will lose protection on “Zyprexa” (which has done $3 billion in sales), and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) will forfeit exclusive rights to produce asthma salve “Advair Diskus” ($4.7 billion in sales).

Next year more big-name patents are set to expire, most notable among them being Bristol-Myers’ (NYSE:BMY) “Plavix,” Merck’s (NYSE:MRK) “Lexapro,” and in 2014 U.K. based AstraZenica (NYSE:AZN) will lose “Seroquel” and “Crestor.”

According to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, by 2015, “global market share for branded drugs will fall to 53%, from 64% in 2010 and 70% in 2005. Spending on branded drugs will drop by $120 billion through 2015.”

With big name pharmaceutical companies slated to lose the exclusive rights granted under patent protection that prevent others from selling or marketing these drugs, generic pharmaceutical companies such as Teva (NASDAQ:TEVA) and Mylan (NASDAQ:MYL) should expect to see some major growth in the future as labs like theirs will be able to tailor and sell their own versions of formerly protected medications.

By 2015, generic drugs are expected to account for some 39% of global medicinal spending, up from 20% in 2005.

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