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Plavix leads drug sales in Q1

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Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi’s Plavix was the top-selling drug in the first quarter of 2012, but it’s time on top may not last long.

Plavix earned $1.6 billion in U.S. sales during the first three months of the year, according to a new report from the drug information website Drugs.com.

The drug, which is used to prevent heart attacks and strokes, saw a 2.85-percent increase in sales from the previous quarter, though the report notes those numbers could drop in future quarters, thanks to new generic competition.

Rounding out the top five were Astra-Zeneca’s heartburn medication Nexium, ($1.4 billion); depression and bipolar disorder drug Abilify, which is marketed by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical and Bristol-Myers ($1.34 billion); Merck’s asthma drug Singular ($1.24 billion); and Seroquel, Astra-Zeneca’s bipolar disorder medication ($1.16 billion).

Perhaps not surprisingly, atorvastatin, the generic form of Pfizer’s cholesterol drug Lipitor, had the highest increase in sales in the first quarter, jumping nearly 89 percent to $952 million. That’s about half of the $1.9 billion Lipitor achieved in each of the first three quarters of 2011. In the first quarter of 2012, Lipitor’s sales dropped to $840 million, giving it the biggest sales drop for the quarter, at nearly 48 percent.

Philip Thornton, Drugs.com’s CEO, said he looks for generics to make a big impact in the coming months.

“…With generic versions of Plavix and Lipitor now available and with a number of established brands moving to first-time generic status in the coming years, lower-cost medications will enable patients to have greater access to life-saving treatments and save billions in healthcare costs,” he said, in a press release.

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