Generic copy of Roche flu pill Tam­i­flu hits US mar­ket

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH -

The first generic copy of Roche's top-sell­ing flu pill Tam­i­flu hit the US mar­ket yes­ter­day, mark­ing a fur­ther step in the Swiss drug­maker's en­forced evo­lu­tion to re­liance on a new wave of block­buster medicines.

Un­listed generic drug­maker Alvo­gen, which de­vel­oped the cut-price ver­sion with In­dia's Natco Pharma, said it ex­pected the cheaper prod­uct to save the US healthcare sys­tem up to $500 mil­lion in the up­com­ing flu sea­son.

Over the years, Tam­i­flu has pro­vided Roche with oc­ca­sional wind­fall prof­its as flu epi­demics have led to spikes in de­mand, most no­tably dur­ing global H1N1 swine flu out­break in 2009 when rev­enue from the drug hit al­most $3 bil­lion.

Since then sales have fallen back and Tam­i­flu is cur­rently a rel­a­tively small com­po­nent of Roche's over­all rev­enue, which reached $37 bil­lion in the first nine months of 2016. Roche faces big­ger generic chal­lenges start­ing next year, when the first so-called biosim­i­lar ver­sions of its in­jectable biotech can­cer drugs are ex­pected to reach the mar­ket in Europe.

Its three es­tab­lished can­cer block­busters Ri­tuxan, Her­ceptin and Avastin, which ac­count for an­nual sales of around $20 bil­lion, all face biosim­i­lar com­pe­ti­tion by the end of the decade in ma­jor mar­kets. Roche is bank­ing on suc­cess with a new batch of biotech drugs for can­cer and other se­ri­ous dis­eases to help fill the gap. — Reuters

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