Big Pharma's Patent Headache

In 2008 more than 10 top-selling drugs will lose patent protection. The industry hopes to recoup the losses with authorized generics
Ortho McNeil's patent for Topamax, used to treat epilepsy and migraines, is due to expire Sept. 26. Getty Images

Women with brittle bones could be in for a bit of a windfall come Feb. 6. That's when Merck's (MRK) Fosamax, the market-leading osteoporosis drug, comes off patent and patients can start buying generic versions. If history holds, prices for the generic medication, called alendronate, should run 40% to 60% less than the $90 a month Fosamax tends to cost.

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