Monday, June 08, 2015

GREED FILES - Delaying Generic Drugs

"What’s delaying some generic drugs from coming to market?" PBS NewsHour 6/5/2015


SUMMARY:  The Federal Trade Commission's recent $1.2 billion settlement over the drug Provigil has brought so-called "pay for delay" deals for generic drugs back into the spotlight.  Opponents say these deals delay generic medications to market, costing consumers billions.  But drug companies say that the deals help get generics to market by avoiding lengthy patent litigation.  NewsHour's Megan Thompson reports.

MEGAN THOMPSON (NewsHour):  In 2004, Karen Winkler was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease affecting the nervous system.  The 47-year-old mother of three, who lives in Clarkston, Michigan, struggles every day with numbness, pain and extreme fatigue.

KAREN WINKLER:  It’s so overwhelming.  You wake up tired.  And as the day progresses, it just gets worse and worse.

MEGAN THOMPSON:  In 2005, Winkler’s doctor prescribed a brand-name medication called Provigil.  It was one of the only drugs for fatigue on the market that had minimal side effects.  It was made by a company called Cephalon, which earned $475 million dollars on Provigil that year.  Winkler’s doctor put her on a half pill, every day.

KAREN WINKLER:  It was perfect, you know.  I had three young kids and I could still do- pretty much do everything that I did.  And, you know, if I had 10 things on the to-do list, you know, I could either get the 10 things done or at least eight or nine of them.

MEGAN THOMPSON:  Better yet, Winkler says her doctor told her Provigil was expected to go generic soon – possibly within a year, which could have saved her more than a thousand dollars a year.

KAREN WINKLER:  Then it didn’t go generic.  And it was a whole different story.

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