Here's some background information first. In 2005, I was finally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. One of the many problems I was experiencing was MS fatigue - not the I'm just a little tired fatigue, but I'm DEAD TIRED, USELESS, and UNCONSCIOUS at 2:00pm fatigue.
So my neurologist gave me some samples of Provigil (modafinil) to try. And it did help. He was able to give me more samples, but explained that eventually I'd have to fill a prescription. In 2006, I did just that for a 3-month supply.
What I didn't expect was that it would exhaust almost an entire year's allowance for prescription medication from my health insurance!!
$1442 for 3 months!! and that was the 'negotiated' rate with BCBS.
So research Cephalon did I.
Prescription Assistance? No way they said and NORD agreed.
Generic Options? uh-uh
News? Interestingly, yes. A deal with TEVA - maker of Copaxone and many other generic drugs.
Well, I was already peeved at TEVA and NORD, so this just sparked more research. I discovered where to read TEVA news and announcements which I did endlessly.
I also discovered that TEVA and three other generic drug makers were 'paid-off' by Cephalon to settle patent litigation filed to enter the generic market for modafinil. At the time, details of the deals were not disclosed so I didn't know how much money was involved. Now we know that the payments exceeded $200 million and that Cephalon sales of Provigil in 2007 exceeded $800 million. That's just insane.
You see, drug companies file suit to get a chance to enter the generic market of a drug which approaches coming off-patent and the first to receive the go-ahead gets 6 months exclusivity to market and sell their generic version of the drug. TEVA is one company which often races to the front of the line and is able to sell their generic version of a new drug at a price equal to the brand-name drug for those 6 months. This is what TEVA did with sertraline (generic of Zoloft.)
But back to the present -
The Federal Trade Commission has filed suit against Cephalon for anticompetitive conduct. A brief article on the WSJ Health Blog summed it up nicely:
"Governments have been worked up for a while over the prospect that the sellers of branded drugs can keep charging high prices by paying generics manufacturers to stay out of the market. Regulators have suggested that the branded manufacturers are basically gaming the system and forcing consumers to pay inflated prices."The Antitrust Review has an easy-to-follow summary as well.
And today -
Dr. Wes discusses the recommendations of some bureaucrats who believe that the answer to improving cardiac care during the night shift is...
can you guess...here it comes...modafinil. Yep, that's it, dope the doctors.
But an angle which I hadn't thought of related to this Cephalon debacle comes from John Mack of the Pharma Marketing Blog. John discusses how we may benefit from the War in Iraq through increased generic pharmaceutical competition.