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OTC Triptans Possible in UK

The UK’s drug regulation agency is considering making Imigran (a.k.a. Imitrex) and Zomig available over the counter with a pharmacist’s supervision. I’m curious to learn if the decision will foretell the outcome of such an attempt with the US FDA.

By 2008, US patents will expire on more than $80 billion worth of so-called blockbuster drugs. When generics become available, name-brand drugs risk losing 80% of their market share. Drug companies need these drugs to continue generating revenue so they can continue R&D on the next round of blockbuster drugs. One of the strategies to retain market share is to make the drug available OTC.

Imigran’s UK patent expires in 2006, so it’s more than likely that GlaxoSmithKline is seeking OTC approval to keep some of their market share. Zomig’s patent isn’t about to expire, but until Relpax was released, it was the most prescribed triptan in the UK. If Imigran is available OTC and docs are prescribing Relpax more than any other triptan, AstraZeneca will have to fight to keep it’s name and market position strong.

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