The prices of many of the world’s most popular prescription medications are set to decrease over the next year and beyond, as patent expiries open the door to generic equivalents.
According to the Associated Press (AP), seven of the top 20 best-selling drugs are set to lose patent protection over the next 14 months, including cholesterol fighter Lipitor (which is taken by 4.3 million Americans) and blood thinner Plavix (taken by 1.4 million Americans). Health Canada approved several generic versions of Lipitor after its Canadian patent ended in 2010.
The wave of expiring patents is set to continue. According to AP, U.K.-based research firm EvaluatePharma Ltd. estimates drugs totaling more than $250 billion in global sales annually are scheduled to lose patent protection by 2016.
In Canada, the availability of an increasing number of generics is likely to drive down drug costs over the long term, especially given that several provinces have already introduced lower pricing caps for generic equivalents.
South of the border, AP reports that doctors are hopeful the lower prices will reduce the number of people who are putting their health in jeopardy by skipping checkups or halving pills to reduce their drug costs.
“You can pretty much tell by the numbers when I check the patient’s blood pressure or cholesterol levels,” that they’ve not taken their medications as often as prescribed, Dr. Nieca Goldberg, director of The Women’s Heart Program at NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, tells AP.