Sunday, December 21

Judge Ends Shortage of Namenda-IR for Alzheimer's

Regular Namenda for Alzheimer's has been in short supply. A federal judge has stepped in to fix that. Find out how.

Regular Namenda® for Alzheimer's has been in short supply lately. Fortunately, a federal judge has stepped in to fix that.

U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet ordered that the drug Namenda-IR be made available for 30 days after generic alternatives start hitting pharmacy shelves on July 11 "in order to allow for an orderly transition."

Namenda-IR (generic memantine) is made by Actavis PLC. Actavis has been trying to encourage people using regular Namenda-IR to replace it with the new extended-release Namenda-XR. They have been using a questionable marketing technique called a "Forced Switch".

Now, the judge's injunction orders the company to inform doctors and pharmacists of what will be happening in the months ahead. It also requires Actavis not to impose any hurdles for filling prescriptions of regular Namenda-IR.

Actavis said it will appeal Judge Sweet's ruling. The company said that Namenda-XR® is an extended release pill. Therefore, a person can take it once daily instead of the usual twice. Actavis claims this is better for both patients and caregivers and that demand is growing.

The flipside is that brand-name medications are almost always a lot more expensive.

The ruling will have "no impact on its ability to continue focusing its resources on transitioning patients" to the new drug.

Eric Schneiderman, who is New York's Attorney General, gets the credit for initiating the proceedings that led to this court order. He alleged that the shortages of regular Namenda IR violated anti-trust and state laws, because Actavis was trying to prevent competition from memantine. Memantine is the cheap generic version of Namenda-IR that is coming out in July.

Schneiderman said, "Unfortunately, schemes to block competition, without considering the consequences to patients, are a growing trend in the health care industry." Fortunately for people with Alzheimer's, Namenda's road has been smoothed out.

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