YARMOUTH, Maine - Has the topsy-turvy world of respiratory medications turned a corner? Wayne Vega thinks so. The vice president of sales for Harvard Drug Group says 2010 could shape up to be "an exceptional year." Here's what he had to say:
Small and mid-sized pharmacies are exiting the business but nationals like Lincare are no longer buying those patients. Instead, we're seeing what we call hypernationals--someone that has a significant volume and patient base yet doesn't necessarily service the entire country--acquire these patients. The nationals are still marketing to their oxygen business and to physicians. They've just slowed down on the mergers and acquisitions.
Starting a standalone respiratory pharmacy would not make sense but if you are in the sleep and oxygen business, you'll have an opportunity. It's a Catch-22: You need volume to be successful but how do you become successful to get the volume?
The market share of the long-acting bronchodilator drugs in general has been significantly low, under 2%. In December, the criteria was lifted (for prescribing the drugs). Before you had to have the three-month history on the short acting bronchodilators. Now, patients can start right away with the right drug.
This is a significant launch. Patients that have been taking just bronchodilators and not this anti-inflammatory as an adjunct therapy have been impeded by the cost of brand-name Pulmicort. Now that there is an opportunity to provide this, we believe there's going to be an exponential increase in new business for generic Pulmicort, not just the replacement sales of patients already taking it. hme