Actavis Faces Short Supply for Slow-Release Alzheimer’s Drug

Sep 02, 2014 6:48 pm ET

(Updates with sales estimate in the seventh paragraph.)

Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Actavis Plc is struggling to meet demand for its Alzheimer’s drug Namenda after promoting a slow- release version of the drug ahead of a patent expiration for the traditional pill.

“We’re working as fast as we can to fix supply for the XR version,” said David Belian, an Actavis spokesman, referring to the extended-release version of Namenda.

Actavis hasn’t been able to meet demand for the drug after a higher-than-expected number of patients switched to the slow- release version. Actavis’s patents for the 5-milligram and 10- milligram doses of Namenda expire in October 2015 and some generic drug manufacturers can start selling competitor products three months before that, Belian said.

Actavis extended its schedule for discontinuing the 5-mg and 10-mg doses of Namenda until the end of the year, from initial plans to stop selling the drug in August, as a result of supply issues with the slow-release pill.

Belian declined to provide details about when the Dublin- based company estimates it can rectify the supply shortage of the slow-release pill.

Actavis picked up Namenda when it bought Forest Laboratories Inc., a $28 billion acquisition that closed in July. The latest patent on Namenda XR, the slow-release version of the Alzheimer’s pill, extends through September 2029, Belian said.

Namenda XR may generate $415 million in 2014 sales for Actavis, about half of a normal year because the merger closed mid-year, and $1.24 billion in 2015, said Randall Stanicky, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets.