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Novartis Drug Diovan Retains 69% of Prescriptions in U.S.

Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Novartis AG has held onto 69 percent of Diovan HCT prescriptions in the U.S. since since the heart drug, its best-selling product, lost patent protection in the country last month.

The Swiss drugmaker retained U.S. market share by introducing its own branded copy through the Sandoz generics unit, Asthika Goonewardene, a London-based analyst for Bloomberg Industries, said in a note to clients today.

U.S. prescriptions for Diovan HCT, a combination of Diovan and a diuretic, have dropped by 64 percent since Mylan Inc. and Sandoz each introduced a copy of the pill more than three weeks ago, Goonewardene said. The Mylan product has taken 47 percent of the generic market, while the drug made by Sandoz holds 53 percent, he said.

“Novartis is smart in that they’ve put their own version out,” Goonewardene said in a telephone interview today.

The Diovan franchise in the U.S. had about about $2.3 billion in annual revenue last year, according to Tim Anderson, an analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., with Diovan HCT accounting for about half of those sales. A competing product to the single-agent version of Diovan, planned by Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., has yet to reach the market.

Eric Althoff, a spokesman at Basel-based Novartis, declined to comment.

Product Pricing

It’s not clear how much Diovan HCT revenue Basel-based Novartis has lost, or how much it’s gaining through the Sandoz version, Goonewardene said. Sandoz has no interest in pricing its copy aggressively as long as Mylan is the sole generic competitor in the market, he said.

Under U.S. law, a company has 180 days of market exclusivity after it starts to sell the first copy of a branded drug. On Oct. 2, Mylan sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval to sell a generic version of the single-agent heart pill following a delay in Ranbaxy’s product introduction.

Diovan generated $5.7 billion in revenue worldwide last year, according Novartis’s annual report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eva von Schaper in Munich at evonschaper@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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