New Teeth For Old Patents

Brand companies find new ways to keep generics at bay

It's a blockbuster that Hollywood would envy. Since its approval in 1993, the allergy drug Claritin has fueled Schering-Plough Corp.'s exceptional growth. In 1998, the line of Claritin products is expected to rack up $2.1 billion in sales, 27% of Schering's total revenues, accounting for about 34% of total profits. By 2002, the drug's sales are likely to balloon to $4 billion, according to SG Cowen. But that's also the year a key patent on Claritin is set to expire--and that could trigger a wave of cheaper, generic versions able to snatch a big chunk of Schering's market in just one year.

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