Monday, April 30, 2007

Sleep Tight, Kids!

Well, all that insomnia prescription/revenue growth had to come from somewhere.

According to research released today by Medco Health Solutions, the children are feeling verrrry sleeeepy. Just don't let them drive:

... use of prescription sleep medications by children under age 19 surged 45 percent between 2001 and 2006; and 52 percent among adults age 20 and older. ... Yet, with those increases have come increased scrutiny on some safety concerns of the medications in this class. In March 2007, the FDA requested that all manufacturers of sedative-hypnotic drug products, a class of drugs used to induce and/or maintain sleep, augment their product labeling to include stronger language concerning potential risks. These risks include severe allergic reactions and complex sleep-related behaviors, which may include sleep-driving, the FDA report stated.
Medco's release is of course designed to raise awareness of generic zolpidem; Sanofi's last Ambien patent expired on April 21st. The most recently available IMS data through April 20th shows Ambien holding onto nearly 41% of new insomnia prescriptions (Ambien CR, Sanofi's extended-release replacement, had nearly 20%), but generic competition from 13 companies means it shouldn't be long before that plummets.

As we wrote last year, market share in insomnia is known to shift quickly--and reliably--in response to DTC advertising. And as the IN VIVO Blog pointed out last month, those DTC ads have gained their share of admirers, and FDA attention.
Medco anticipates saving upwards of $150 million per year thanks to generic zolpidem. And they just might get away with it without the antics of Abe & the beaver, the butterfly, and those meddling kids.

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