Sep 24, 2014

New York Attorney General Files Lawsuit Over Namenda

The New York State’s attorney general filed an antitrust lawsuit on Monday seeking to stop Actavis from forcing patients with Alzheimer’s disease to switch to a new version of the Alzheimer's medication Namenda.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

New York Attorney General Files Lawsuit Over Namenda

Let me start by stating that several weeks ago it became apparent that there was a national shortage of Namenda XR. In short, the drug was not available for purchase in many locations.

I called the two largest pharmacies in the Delray Beach, FL area, and neither could fill a prescription for Namenda XR. This of course left million of patients living with Alzheimer's unable to take a drug they were already consuming.

At the time, I called Actavis for more than 3 hours to get a statement and clarification for our readers here on the ARR and on Facebook. I talked to 7 people and was assured I would get a call back. They never returned our call.

The Alzheimer's Reading Room is the largest blog of its type on the Internet. We have always received great cooperation and information from pharmaceutical companies and this included Forest Laboratories which was acquired by Actavis.

Actavis is trying to force user of Namenda onto the newer version of the drug (XE) while at the same time discontinuing the sale of the existing 5 and 10 mg versions of Namenda.

Imagine what would happen if every time a cell phone company issued a new phone that they turned off all the existing version and forced you to buy the new phone. This is basically what Actavis is trying to do you.

You should know that the current formula of Namenda will go generic in July, 2015. I would expect the drug to drop in price by 30 percent immediately, and then by more than 90 percent by July, 2016.

I am a fan of Namenda, and I believe the drug helped my mother.

In the not so distant future all persons suffering from Alzheimer's will be able to obtain combination therapy (the generic version of Aricept and Namenda) for less than $20 a month. To compare, there was a time while I was caring for Dotty when the combined drugs cost more than $630 for a one month supply.

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The Current Situation

The New York State’s attorney general filed an antitrust lawsuit on Monday seeking to stop a pharmaceutical company from forcing patients with Alzheimer’s disease to switch to a new version of a widely used drug (New York Times).

The suit accuses Actavis of forcing patients to switch to a once-daily formulation of the same drug, Namenda XR, so that the company won't face as much competition when low-cost generic versions of the original drug hit the market next year. The U.S. patent for the original drug expires next year, while a separate patent for the extended-release version isn't due to expire until 2029 (Wall Street Journal)>

In a statement New York state's attorney general said
"A drug company manipulating vulnerable patients and forcing physicians to alter treatment plans unnecessarily, simply to protect corporate profits, is unethical and illegal."
Read more from these sources.

  1. New York Sues to Block Early Withdrawal of Alzheimer's Drug
  2. Forest Laboratories' Namenda Is Focus of Lawsuit
  3. "Forced switch" maneuver spurs lawsuit against drugmaker

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Also see.

Does the Combination of Aricept and Namenda Slow the Rate of Decline in Alzheimer's Patients

"The results of this study should change the way we treat patients with Alzheimer's disease. Cholinesterase inhibitors are approved for use in mild to moderate dementia, while memantine has been approved for advanced dementia. But it looks like there is an advantage in prescribing both drugs (Aricept and Namenda) as initial treatment."--John Growdon, MD