Good News For Biogen's $7 Billion Rituxin: Copying Drugs Bio Drugs Ain't Easy

Rituxan (also called MabThera) is a true blockbuster drug. Haaretz reports it has $7 billion in sales. It’s used to treat some non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, among other things.

Unfortunately for Biogen Idec (BIIB) and Roche’s Genentech, which collaborate to make and sell it in most parts of the world, its patents are nearly up. Biogen says the principal patents with claims to Rituxan expire in 2013 in most countries, and in the U.S. between 2015 and 2018.

Once generics hit the market, the sales and fat profits of a blockbuster drug tend to disappear.

BIIB Revenue TTM Chart

BIIB Revenue TTM data by YCharts

And generics giant Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA) is already on the case. It’s been developing a generic version with Lonza AG.

TEVA Revenue TTM Chart

TEVA Revenue TTM data by YCharts

But that’s not going well. A clinical trial in Europe for arthritis has been postponed, reports Israel’s Globes. In September Roche’s marketing head said that generic competition will come later than expected, not before the first quarter of 2015.

BIIB Chart

BIIB data by YCharts

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