A recent ruling from the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit tells Actavis it cannot withdraw Namenda IR. The drug, a popular drug for treating Alzheimer’s disease, needs to be taken twice daily. Actavis, in a bold move to make more money, decided to remove Namenda IR from the market, prior to a generic replacement, in favor of its new product, Namenda XR. The new extended-release drug contains the exact same active ingredient, memantine, but only requires one daily dose.
Of course, Namenda XR is much more expensive than Namenda IR. So much so, that Actavis will likely lose a projected $200M in sales from Namenda XR in the period between its release and the introduction of a generic version of Namenda IR. If this gets your goat, you’re not alone.
Eric T. Schneiderman, New York’s AG, didn’t care for Actavis’ greed-based plan, either. He filed suit again Actavis on the grounds it was trying to kill competition from generic drug makers. Both the federal district court and the Second Circuit agree with the AG, the latter stating that, “By removing Namenda IR from the market prior to generic IR entry, defendants sought to deprive consumers of that choice.”
Currently, about 30 states have laws in place requiring pharmacists to provide generic drugs in place of brand names when an exact equivalent is available. Doctors can override this by prescribing the medication as “DAW,” or “Dispense As Written.”
I applaud Mr. Schneiderman, the district court judge and the Second Circuit for this decision. It protects patients and their loved ones, already in one of the most difficult situations possible, from being financially gouged by Big Pharma. Well done, all!