First J&J bought half of Elan's Alzheimer drug pipeline, and agreed to become Elan's partner on Tysabri if Biogen Idec
Yesterday, Alkermes said that J&J was discontinuing the development of a once-monthly version of its antipsychotic Risperdal. The company currently markets Risperdal Consta, developed using Alkermes' long-lasting technology, which allows the drug to be taken once every two weeks.
The development halt seems purely commercial in nature. As the patent expiration on Risperdal approached, Johnson & Johnson developed a follow-on drug called Invega, and then used Elan's NanoCrystal technology to develop a long-lasting version of the drug, called Invega Sustenna, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration a few weeks ago.
Since Invega Sustenna is dosed once a month, sorry, Alkermes -- your services are no longer needed. Welcome to the party, Elan! Sit down and have a beer! We've got the U.S. market all to ourselves, at least until Eli Lilly
Ironically, Eli Lilly is now Alkermes' ticket to getting out of the doghouse with investors. Eli Lilly and Amylin Pharmaceuticals
Keep your chin up, Alkermes. You'll get a new friend soon enough.
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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Johnson & Johnson is a selection of the Income Investor newsletter. The Fool has a disclosure policy.