Usually, drug companies get years of exclusive marketing rights before a drug runs into generic competition, but that's not the case for Johnson & Johnson
On Friday, both Perrigo
J&J acquired the rights to the over-the-counter version when it purchased Pfizer's
With generic competition, J&J won't be able to fetch nearly as high a price for the drug, but the over-the-counter status should help it reach a larger audience than Pfizer's prescription version did. In its new shelf spot, it will have to compete with other over-the-counter antihistamines including Schering-Plough's
For a company the size of J&J, a little added generic competition isn't going to have too large an effect. But it is a sign of the growing patent problem for Big Pharma in general and J&J specifically -- both its antipsychotic Risperdal and its Alzheimer's medication Reminyl lose patent protection next year.
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