Evergreening and patent cliff hangers – Article from #1 2019

The tragic 9/11 events in 2001 implied a delay in the court proceedings in Boston that dealt with a case involving AstraZeneca and its blockbuster drug Losec (Prilosec in the US). The key basic patent for this drug had been received by the Swedish company Astra in the US in 1981 (US patent # 4.255.431, issued March 10, 1981). Astra later merged with Zeneca in 1998-99, forming AstraZeneca (“AZ”). The delay in court proceedings in 2001, due to the unexpected and time-consuming involvement of the court in the 9/11 events, implied in turn that competitive entry of generica into the Losec market was also delayed. At this time media circulated an undemented estimate of 200 MUSD as the monthly profits reaped by AZ from this drug. These profits were to be heavily reduced by competitive entry which was sure to take place as soon as possible after the key patent expired, as generic drug manufacturers had prepared their ”springboards” for entry into this lucrative market.