Old Novartis cancer flagship Gleevec heads to pharmacies as lower-cost generic
- Mumbai-based Sun Pharma will begin shipping its generic version of Novartis' Gleevec to the U.S., following the patent expiry of the leukemia drug.
- Gleevec was first indicated for treatment of myeloid leukemia in 2001 and represented a major improvement in the standard of care.
- Since its introduction, the price of branded Gleevec continued to rise. According to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the price for one Gleevec pill rose from $92.74 in 2010, to $179.93 in 2014.
Novartis has been aggressive about policing its Gleevec related patents, but Sun will now legally be able to launch generic imatinib. Gleevec's list of indications now includes various types of leukemias and blood cancers, as well as rare skin cancers and gastrointestinal tumors.
Gleevec changed the standard of care, but like other sought-after medications it became increasingly expensive. Gleevec generated $4.7 billion in sales in 2015, including $2.5 billion in the U.S. Total costs to CMS for Medicare Part D were roughly $1 billion in 2014.
Kal Sundaram, CEO of Sun Pharmaceuticals, anticipates that generic imatinib will be discounted roughly 30% compared with branded Gleevec, according to report from NPR