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US drug maker is challenged over decision to force patients to use new version of drug as patent expiry looms

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 22 September 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5775
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. 1Montreal

New York state’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, has launched a federal antitrust suit against the drug company Actavis and its recently acquired subsidiary Forest Laboratories, over their plan to force patients to switch to a new extended release version of the Alzheimer’s drug Namenda (memantine).

Forest announced in February that it would stop manufacturing the twice daily Namenda this summer, offering instead a new once daily drug, Namenda XR. Namenda’s patent is due to expire in July 2015, which would normally trigger a sharp drop in sales as cheaper generic versions flooded the market. But Forest said that it hoped to maintain its market share by engineering what is known in the industry as a “forced switch” to Namenda XR, whose patent is …

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