Industry watchers are paying attention to whether rising sales of generic drugs will threaten original product Aricept in the dementia-treating donepezil market.
According to U-BIST data, combined sales of donepezil drugs rose to 60.1 billion won ($53.6 million) in the first half, up 14.5 percent from 52.5 billion won a year earlier.
With the market growing, sales of generic medicines also expanded. The government’s support for dementia treatment and drugmakers’ focus on the domestic market helped boost the sales of generic drugs, analysts said.
Eisai’s Aricept, the original drug, ranked No. 1 with 32.5 billion won prescriptions in the first half. The volume was up 5.1 percent compared to 30.9 billion won a year earlier.
Aricept was able to keep its lead by choosing Chong Kun Dang as a sales partner, although the original drug initially struggled to defend itself against mushrooming generic treatments.
Among generics, Samjin Pharm’s Neutoin topped the prescriptions with 5.7 billion won in the first half even though it was a 3.1 percent decline from 5.5 billion won a year earlier.
Daewoong Bio’s Beacept showed the most significant sales growth. Selling 4.2 billion won in the first half, the treatment hit triple-digit sales growth from 1.5 billion won a year earlier.
Daewoong Bio is a subsidiary of Daewoong Pharmaceutical, which manufactures Aricept for Eisai. Daewoong is making profits both from the original drug and the generic copy.
Myung Moon Pharm’s Ceptpezil posted the second-largest generics sales with 2.78 billion won, followed by Jeil Pharma’s Dopezil with 2.77 billion won, and Hanmi Pharmaceutical’s Donezil with 2.5 billion won. The three treatments had double-digit sales growth year-on-year in the first half.
Chong Kun Dang, the partner firm of Eisai for Aricept, sold 1.6 billion won worth Neuropezil in the first half, up 22.1 percent from 1.3 billion won a year earlier.
Dong-A ST’s Aridone, however, suffered a 5.9 percent sales drop to 2.3 billion won from 2.5 billion won over the cited period. Myungin Pharmaceutical’s Silvercept also marked a 3 percent fall to 1.6 billion won.
“With an increased number of dementia patients, the market size has grown. Generic drugs are making a remarkable sales growth,” said an official at a drugmaker’s marketing division. “We have to watch how the original drug will compete against generics.”