About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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August 4, 2011

Does Anyone Want Axanum?

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Posted by Derek

While we're talking about the cost of drugs, is AstraZeneca really going to be able to sell anyone any Axanum? That's a combination pill of Nexium (esomeprazole) and low-dose aspirin. The FDA didn't go for it last year, but the InVivoBlog details the company's attempts to get it on the market across Europe. Seeing as how AZ's drug is staggering off patent protection in Europe, and seeing as how low-dose aspirin is cheaper than the better grades of dirt, I just don't see how they sell any of this stuff. But desperate times, desperate measure and all that, I guess. . .

Comments (21) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Drug Prices


1. PharmaHeretic on August 4, 2011 1:08 PM writes...

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

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2. PharmaHeretic on August 4, 2011 1:12 PM writes...

But is such behavior that different from pushing atypical anti-psychotics to hyperactive kids and old people in nursing homes? If anything, they might end up killing or harming far fewer people.

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3. startup on August 4, 2011 1:43 PM writes...

Is it any good?

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4. newnickanme on August 4, 2011 1:44 PM writes...

When I read about the M&As, layoffs, promotion of off-label use, desperate attempts at patent extension and other rigamarole, I get awful heartburn AND a huge headache. BUT, I took two Axanum and felt great! You will, too!

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5. MoMo on August 4, 2011 1:52 PM writes...

I heard AZ is making a move on the makers of "Lazy Cakes"- the new brownies that contain melatonin and available now in New England. That will help their shore up their profits immensely!

Keep up that Innovative Thinking!

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6. partial agonist on August 4, 2011 3:16 PM writes...

Aspirin does so much stuff, everybody ought to be looking for a line extension by bundling with aspirin.

Trouble it, it needs to raise the cost by about a penny.

Having one pill instead of two would improve patient compliance, which must be their argument, but I don't see a great opportunity there.

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7. Anonymous on August 4, 2011 3:34 PM writes...

It'll be popular amongst AZ execs come stockholder meeting time...

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8. SteveM on August 4, 2011 5:08 PM writes...

Meh, Lovaza is just hyper-expensive fish oil yet docs write scripts for it.

AZ probably figures that as long as they can fool some of the docs some of the time, they'll make some money.

So what the heck...?

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9. Jose on August 4, 2011 7:51 PM writes...

Not sure I understand- is it just an absurd ploy to extend the patent?

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10. kenzhang on August 4, 2011 9:12 PM writes...

Nature review reports that patients with a history of cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease, discontinuation of low-dose acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) therapy leads to a marked rise in the risk of future stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). Maybe Ananum can do something.

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11. NoDrugsNoJobs on August 4, 2011 9:23 PM writes...

Not sure why that when a drug company tries to make their drug more convenient or more tolerable or easier to administer they should be condemned and their motives impugned. If the combination makes sense, who should do the logical thing and combine them? Somebody else? Nobody?

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12. Anonymous on August 4, 2011 10:15 PM writes...

Here's an idea...combine Nexium with a SIRT1 activator from Sirtris. Polish it and sell it back to big pharma. Miracle medicine: you'll live forever and have a happy stomach!!!

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13. Morten G on August 5, 2011 2:41 AM writes...

Well I've had two different doctors prescribe me Avamys and the only difference over the generic is the counter ion. And the fact that it costs twice as much (which is cleverly disguised by halving the dosage and having people use twice as much).
So I don't see why this wouldn't work. Doctors don't care what the active ingredient is.

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14. Derek Lowe on August 5, 2011 10:28 AM writes...

NoDrugsNoJobs, to me the problem is that the improvement in convenience is minimal compared to the cost. And having such things emerge only when the patent is running out on the original drug does not add to the good feelings.

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15. NoDrugsNoJobs on August 5, 2011 11:50 AM writes...

Derek - if the improvement is not worth it then I reckon folks shouldn't buy it. What you are suggesting is that the combination doesn't make sense to sell since it as a combination at a higher price - so be it. However, if it increases the efficacy because folks don't take these two together normally or they don't do so reliably then maybe it is a worthwhile idea. I'm not sure who should say what makes sense? These days, the payors enforce a pretty strict discipline so they will have a tough audience for sure, not to mention the fda, EMEA, etc - I still don't get why the innovative free market that gives us better things at better prices across the spectrum suddenly is deemed insufficient to deal with drugs. For drugs, we are supposed to rely on a more reliable source for innovation, pricing, etc then the free market, the problem is, I am not sure what that is.

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16. Just Facts on August 5, 2011 7:28 PM writes...

Frankly, I don't see any problem with Axanum. Bravo AZ, I'd say. And hope that Anaxum will fetch some badly needed revenue to support more innovative R&D, and keep some of you employed...

Bashing Big Pharma may seem cool these days, but let's be reasonable, and perhaps a bit practical.

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17. Just Facts on August 5, 2011 7:53 PM writes...

Frankly, I don't see any problem with Axanum. Bravo AZ, I'd say. Hopefully, Anaxum will fetch some badly needed revenue to support more innovative R&D, and keep more medicinal chemists employed. And no, I don't work for AZ or any Pharama Co. for that matter.

Bashing Big Pharma may seem cool these days, but let's be reasonable, and perhaps a bit practical.

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18. Brian on August 5, 2011 8:40 PM writes...

Is that very much different than Vimovo? My wife's doctor prescribed that for her osteoarthritis and we then discovered that not only is it very expensive, but not covered by her prescription plan since both items are OTC separately.

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19. Terry on August 6, 2011 3:20 PM writes...

It is better than to develop a generic drug after the patents expiration.
Indeed similar combination of know drugs is very popular now due the hardness to find new chemical entry.

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20. sepisp on August 8, 2011 1:50 AM writes...

Sounds like a capitalist's miracle pill: first causes and then cures stomach ulcers.

Seriously, what happened to coadministration? Do you have to put all drug combinations like this through the full approval process - is it illegal to sell combined pills with two well-characterized APIs?

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21. RM on August 8, 2011 9:46 AM writes...

I find this especially amusing as Nexium is usually the drug trotted out as an example of a "me too" drug whose main function is to extend the patent life of a compound which was going generic. My understanding is that the improvement with Nexium compared to Prilosec is marginal at best, and not worth the cost difference for 90+% of the people taking it.

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