Lollapalooza dates from a late 19th/early 20th century American phrase meaning “an extraordinary or unusual thing, person, or event.” The patents on some of the best selling drugs in the world are about to expire.  That means that a drug that cost $200 will now cost $6.  Health plans have been raising brand name deductibles for a few years now.  Most major carriers now have brand name drug deductibles from $500 up to as high as $1500.  Those of you that have a High Deductible Health Plan or are thinking about one should realize that the brand name deductible does not apply to the major medical deductible.  Sometimes you may add an integrated prescription plan. Doing that will increase the Health Insurance Premiums but whatever you pay out of pocket for doctor visits, tests, or prescriptions all goes towards the deductible and there is no separate drug deductible.

Senior health plans with prescription coverage called Medicare Part D for Medigap plans have a donut hole. When the combined amount of what you pay and what your prescription plan pays for your prescriptions reach a total of $2840 you are in the hole. Your plan will then pay 50% of the costs and you will pay 50% until you reach a total $4550. What you pay and what the plan pays count s towards your out-of-pocket spending.  After you have spent $4550 out-of-pocket you will only pay a small co-insurance for each drug until the end of the year.  Medicare Advantage plans come with Part D but the donut hole works the same way.  Plavix, which costs about $200 retail, will have its patent expire in 2012.  I am sure you can see that that $2400 savings will be a big deal as far as the donut hole is concerned.

So why are the patents expiring on these drugs such a lollapalooza?  Well, because they are some of the most widely prescribed drugs in the world.  An estimated $250 billion in sales will be lost between now and 2015 according to EvaluatePharma.  A generic drug will sell for about 10% of what a brand name drug sells for.  According to DailyFinance

The top five best-sellers set to lose patent protection in 2011 are:

  • Lipitor made by Pfizer used to treat cholesterol
  • Zypreza made by Eli Lily and is an antipsychotic medication
  • Levaquin made by Johnson & Johnson and is an antibiotic
  • Protonix made by Pfizer and is an antacid

Patent Expiring in 2012:

  • Plavix made by Bristol/Myers Squibb/Sanofi-Aventis and is an anti-platelet
  • Seroquel made by AstraZeneca and is an antipsychotic
  • Singulair made by Merck for asthma
  • Actos made by Takeda for type 2 diabetes
  • Enbrel made by Amgen for arthritis

Medicare Part D