Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck is poised to take over the global No.1 spot with its antidepressant Cipralex, which is marketed in the US by partner Forest Laboratories as Lexapro. Since its US launch doctors have prescribed Lexapro to 13 million patients, and this number is set to increase considerably when the patent expires on big rival Pfizer's drug Zoloft.
Jyske Bank analyst Peter Bertram Andersen comments: "When Zoloft's patent terminates, Lundbeck will have the world's most widespread antidepressant product. Lundbeck entered the US market as number five, and only a few expected that it would end up taking 20%."
Antidepressant consumption in the US accounts for 70% of the global market, and is valued at around DKK 19.9 bn (USD 3.4 bn) in 2005. The news was reported by national daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende.
Meanwhile Lundbeck is soon to start phase II clinical studies of its new antidepressant candidate drug Lu AA21004, the result of original development work into a new chemical class of psychotropics, the bis-aryl-sulphanyl amines, the pharmacology of which is said to be markedly different from currently marketed antidepressants.
Developing an improved treatment for depression represents a major potential business opportunity for any pharmaceutical company. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 121 million people worldwide currently suffer from depression. An estimated 5.8% of men and 9.5% of women will experience a depressive episode in any given year.
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