GENEVA TO MARKET GENERIC HALCION, XANAX FROM UPJOHN’s GREENSTONE, LTD.
GENEVA TO MARKET GENERIC HALCION, XANAX FROM UPJOHN's GREENSTONE, LTD. subsidiary, the companies disclosed Jan. 19. Upjohn's patents for the benzodiazepines Halcion (triazolam) and Xanax (alprazolam) expire on Oct. 19, 1993. The firms did not disclose when Geneva would begin marketing the drugs. Upjohn and the Ciba-Geigy subsidiary announced a generic marketing agreement in March ("The Pink Sheet" March 16, 1992, In Brief). Greenstone, formed by Upjohn Jan. 1, will supply Geneva with generic products manufactured at Upjohn facilities. Upjohn announced the formation of the wholly owned subsidiary internally Jan. 13, characterizing it as a step in the implementation of its generic strategy in the U.S. in the face of impending patent expirations for several of its major products. Halcion and Xanax accounted for 21% of Upjohn's total corporate sales in the first three quarters of 1992. Worldwide Xanax sales for the nine months ended Sept. 30, 1992, were $455 mil. and U.S. sales were $373 mil. Halcion sales have been in a tailspin in the wake of overseas product withdrawals and relabeling in the U.S. due to side effect concerns. Third quarter sales were down 47% from the same period the previous year. For the first nine months of 1992 Halcion sales were $101 mil. worldwide and $37 mil. in the U.S. With the establishment of Greenstone, Upjohn joins a growing list of brandname manufacturers who have created affiliates to market generic versions of their drugs. Other companies that have employed this strategy include ICI, which IPR subsidiary manufactures a generic atenolol (Tenormin); Merck, whose West Point Pharma division markets a generic diflunisal (Dolobid); Marion Merrell Dow, whose Blue Ridge Labs supplies a generic diltiazem (Cardizem); and Syntex, whose Hamilton affiliate received an ANDA for naproxen (Naprosyn) on Oct. 30, 1992. As other Upjohn products go off patent, they will be considered as Greenstone candidates as well, Upjohn said. One upcoming patent expiration is for the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug Ansaid on Feb. 19, 1993. Upjohn tried to secure legislative passage of a patent extension for Ansaid last year but did not succeed. Another upcoming major patent expiry is for the anti-diabetic Micronase (glyburide), which loses exclusivity May 1, 1994. In preparation for Micronase patent expiry the company obtained approval in March 1992 for a new formulation of glyburide, Glynase PresTabs, which Upjohn maintains offers better bioavailability than Micronase.
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