Two websites list Merck’s drug patent on Propecia expiring this summer:
According to RX Solutions, the exact expiration date for Propecia is June 19, 2006.
Brand Name: Propecia
Ingredient Name: Finasteride
Patent Number: 4760071
Expiration Date: Jun 19, 2006
Is this accurate? Thanks.
These reference sites are what they are and say what they say. I have looked up finasteride on the United States Patent office website and found issued Method patents for finasteride — #5,571,817, granted November 1996 “Methods of treating androgenic alopecia with finasteride” and #5,567,708, granted October 1996 “Methods of treating androgenic alopecia with finasteride”. Clearly, this is a treatment method for hair loss defined for this drug and if these publication dates hold, they would be good for 17 years from the date of issue (for patents filed at that time), but as a method patent they may have limited value. In March 1999, Merck received patent #5,886,184 for the process of manufacture of finasteride and it may be this process that is the enforcing patent, as I understand that method patents can not be enforced in providing a service related process for healthcare in the United States. Another process patent for manufacture was published in November 1995 again following the 17 year rule.
What everyone wants to know is whether this change brings on generic finasteride into the US and Western European Market? I have confirmed with a Merck rep that the drug does go off patent this summer, but I am told that other patents will be enforceable. If generics come into the market, will the pills be scored so that it is easy to break into 1mg sizes?
We are not far from the answer to this question. My capitalistic nose tells me: Follow the money!