Pharmas Market with Mike Huckman

Generic Drugs and The 'Maris' Poll

My health insurance company and pharmacy benefit manager have tried to get me onto generic Zocor. But I continue to shell out the higher co-pay for my prescription for 10mg of Pfizer's Lipitor . I figure if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I haven't had a screening done in a long time (I know I'm overdue, but I don't like having blood drawn and often get faint,) but at last check the Lipitor was lowering my bad cholesterol. It's not about the money or reservations about taking a generic drug. I'm just sticking with what works.

But I'm in the minority.

Three out of four prescriptions in the U.S. are filled with generics. But a new, albeit small, survey by a prominent generic drug industry analyst shows even the people filling those pill bottles have issues with generics. Calyon Securities' David Maris polled 25 pharmacists for part of a big research report he sent out to clients this week.

Source: CLSA

That's Maris cloaked as the king, I guess, of "Planet Generics" and his two team members rocketing in a syringe and surfing on a caplet dodging pharmaceutical meteors and asteroids.

Some of the survey results are surprising while some are oddly conflicting.

Maris said 65 percent of the pharmacists agreed with the statement "I am concerned about generic-drug safety."

Fifty-six percent of the druggists said they don't think generics are identical to brand-name pills.

Three out of four respondents want the generic drug manufacturer's name and the country where the stuff was made on the bottle.

But in a somewhat conflicting finding only 15 percent said they trust brand-name drugs more than generic ones.

So, whose generics do the pharmacists trust the most?

They ranked the top three as Teva, Mylan and Pfizer's Greenstone generic drug unit. Even though MYL came in a close overall second, Maris said the company actually received more first-place votes than TEVA, which is the industry's 800-pound gorilla. Mylan's gotta love that, especially in light of the hit it took in the press last year over alleged manufacturing problems. The company denied the reports and the FDA soonafter cleared the plant in question. All the rest of the generic drug companies in Maris' poll were distant also-rans.

In mid-February I'll be reporting live from the Generic Pharmaceutical Association annual meeting in Naples, FL. Like last year, it's at the Ritz-Carlton. I know that venue seems counterintuitive to everything the industry supposedly stands for, but outgoing GPhA Chairman, Teva North America CEO Bill Marth, recently told me he got a good two-year deal on the hotel well before the economy tanked. I'm not complaining. When you live in the northeast like I do, Florida in February is an attractive assignment.

In addition to talking to several generic drug company CEOs, while there I'm hoping to land CNBC's first interview with Dr. Peggy Hamburg. The new FDA commish is keynoting the event. And, hopefully, she and/or her handlers is/are reading this blog. If so, speaking of hotels and destinations, please move the FDA Advisory Committee meetings from the Holiday Inn and Hilton hotels in Gaithersburg, MD, not to the Ritz in Naples, but at least to better, easier access venues in Washington, DC.

Thanks, in advance.

Questions?  Comments? and follow me on Twitter at mhuckman