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Published on : Dec 18, 2015

The global generic drugs market is projected to flourish in the next few years due to the patent expiry of several blockbuster drugs. Unlike branded or blockbuster drugs, generic drugs are marketed by their chemical names.

When a company develops a new drug to treat a particular condition, it is sold under a brand that the clinician can prescribe to the patients for use. This drug is covered by patent protection, allowing only the pharmaceutical firm that holds the patient to manufacture it and market it and eventually gain profit from it. In most cases, the patent awarded to a drug lasts for around 20 years in the U.S. However, this time range varies from country to country and also between drugs.

On the other hand, a drug can be manufactured as a generic drug if the patent of the particular drug is expired, the drug was never patented before, or in countries that have no patent protection. Furthermore, if the pharmaceutical firm manufacturing the generic drug certifies that the patent held on the drug were either invalid, unenforceable, or would not be infringed upon, then a drug can be manufactured as a generic drug as well.

The patent expiry of the key drugs will allow other companies in the global market to manufacture them and thus increase the competition. This will help in the expansion of the global generic drugs market. Some of the major drug patent expirations that will be observed in 2016 are:

  • Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium) from AstraZeneca will lose its patent protection in 2016, which will prompt competitors such as Actavis to come up with their generic versions.
  • HUMIRA (adalimumab) from Abbvie used to treat rheumatoid arthritis was the world’s biggest selling drug holding over 60% share in 2014. This product has already experienced a decline in its sales in Q2 2015 and will experience even more declining sales in 2016 due to patent expiry.
  • Benicar (olmesartan medoxomil) from Daiichi Sankyo made sales worth over US$2 bn in the 2014 fiscal year. However, with its patent expiration set in October 2016, the product is projected to witness declining sales.

Although the patent expiration of major drugs is projected to lower brand spending by around US$120 bn in 2016, it will help to drive the sale of generic drugs worldwide fuelling the growth of the global generic drugs market remarkably.