Cheap Prescription Drugs! Generic Lipitor!

No, no – wait!  Don’t hit that spam button:

The cost of prescription medicines used by millions of people every day is about to plummet.

The next 14 months will bring generic versions of seven of the world’s 20 best-selling drugs, including the top two: cholesterol fighter Lipitor and blood thinner Plavix.

The magnitude of this wave of expiring drugs patents is unprecedented. Between now and 2016, blockbusters with about $255 billion in global annual sales will go off patent, notes EvaluatePharma Ltd., a London research firm. Generic competition will decimate sales of the brand-name drugs and slash the cost to patients and companies that provide health benefits.

Top drugs getting generic competition by September 2012 are taken by millions every day: Lipitor alone is taken by about 4.3 million Americans and Plavix by 1.4 million. Generic versions of big-selling drugs for blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, depression, high triglycerides, HIV and bipolar disorder also are coming by then.

The flood of generics will continue for the next decade or so, as about 120 brand-name prescription drugs lose market exclusivity, according to prescription benefits manager Medco Health Solutions Inc.

“My estimation is at least 15 percent of the population is currently using one of the drugs whose patents will expire in 2011 or 2012,” says Joel Owerbach, chief pharmacy officer for Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, which serves most of upstate New York.

This is your free market at work here, folks.  Instapundit wonders what will happen to Big Pharma research in the wake of all this lost revenue, but my common sense tells me that these companies set their prices precisely with these kind of events in mind.  The only thing that could really foul up Big Pharma would be something that its managers couldn’t have foreseen or reasonably planned for … like vast expansions of Big Government regulations.  Remember that.

Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the architects of Obamacare (and their minions in the press and the Leftosphere) magnanimously take credit for the decreased cost of prescription drugs that we will see in the near future.

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