Guess what? The time has actually come for the patent of one of the
most widely used sleep medications in the world — Ambien — to come to an end. According to a recent article in The Sleep Report:
This year alone, 10 brand-name medications with revenue exceeding $8.1
billion are expected to lose patent exclusivity, including the widely
prescribed sleep medication Ambien (zolpidem tartrate).
- Ambien’s US sales exceeded $2 billion last year.
- Medications to treat sleep disorders are one of the fastest growing
categories of drug spending, rising 31.5% in 2005 alone according to
Medco Health Solutions Inc, a pharmacy benefit manager.
- While seniors use the most hypnotics, younger adults showed the greatest increase in use of these drugs.
- According to Medco’s analysis, the number of adults aged 20 to 44 years
using sleeping medications increased by 128% between 2000 and 2005.
- According to pharmacy market analyst IMS Health, a one percent increase
in generic utilization nationwide yields almost $4 billion in savings.
So what does this mean for those of you who are taking these valuable
First, you should know that the makers of Ambien have done
a great job of reducing the price of their newest medication, Ambien CR,
so that it will match or come very close to the price of generic.
Next, I hope to see insurance companies recognizing that the use of these medications can in fact LOWER our healthcare
premiums, but I doubt it.