Clarinex, Nexium, Nexperdal?
J&J is stealing a play from AstraZeneca and Schering-Plough. AZ couldnâ€™t come up with a worthy successor to Prilosec, so when the drug went off patent the company introduced the infamous Nexium, which is the substance the body turns Prilosec into. Basically you get Nexium when you swallow Prilosec, yet Nexium managed to become a multibillion product. Clarinex is just a tiny tweak on Claritin, introduced when Claritinâ€™s patent expired.
Now J&J is faced with the expiration of its blockbuster for schizophrenia, Risperdal. When a patient takes Risperdal the body converts it to paliperidone. So just like AZ, J&J is going to market paliperidone as the next thing. J&J claims paliperidone is better than Risperdal, but thatâ€™s doubtful. From the Wall Street Journal:
The research backing J&Jâ€™s claims for paliperidone seems a little thin. Clinical tests, involving 1600 patients, pitted it against a sugar pill, not Risperdal or other antipsychotic drugsâ€¦
â€œThey canâ€™t claim its better than risperidone [Risperdalâ€™s generic name] because they didnâ€™t do the comparison,â€ said [Duke psychiatry professor] P. Murali Doraiswamy.
Basically, J&J is proving that paliperidone is better than nothing. Thatâ€™s not a very high standard.
Meanwhile doctors, health plans, and patients havenâ€™t set a very high standard either. Doctors continue to accept Nexium samples and prescribe the drug, most payers still have it on formulary, and patients continue to insist on the purple pill. Time to wise up!
J&J hasnâ€™t picked a brand name for paliperidone yet. Here are a few suggestions: