Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Cheaper statins

On the 23rd of June the patent on Zocor expired. Iareal based Teva and India based Ranbaxy are already churning out their versions. Merck (NYSE:MRK) will have another problem in addition to it's well publicised Vioxx law suit. One worries for Merck financially. When Zocor's patency expires, third party payers in USA will go for cheaper generics. They have already declared that they will reimburse generic Zocor.

So far, Merck is still trading near its 52 week high. Yet remeber that Merck's revenue for 2005 was $22.01 Billion of which Zocor contributed $4.3 Billion. This will not only affect Merck, but perhaps also Lipitor of Pfizer and Crestor of Astra-Zeneca, because of the fact that high dose Zocor have been shown to lower LDL-cholesterol level to target, like lipitor and crestor.

In Malaysia, this is unlikely to have any significant impact as the local Zocor patent expired last year. Of course, funding for these wonder drugs do not largely come from small markets like ours. Merck was developing Vytorin (the combo pill of Zocor/Ezetimide), to take over from Zocor. We have always used Vytorin very selectively and only in resistance cases where statins alone could not lower LDL-C to target levels.

One advantage of cheaper generic Zocor in USA may be that more patients will achieve LDL-C targets. At least that is what we hope for.

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