Years ago, a new generic launch would be met with pomp and circumstance. There would be cases of the product shipped to every pharmacy in the country amid great fanfare. Bands played when generic Prozac and generic Lipitor were able to hit the store shelves.
Companies know how many units of their product they sell each month, each day, probably each hour. When a generic is launched, there is over a 90% drop in brand sales immediately. This means that over 90% of the prescriptions filled are for generic for this product. Pretty easy math there. (Unless your State Medicaid is slow to update their formulary or are still taking kickbacks from the brand manufacturer.)
Anyway, it is fairly easy to predict the demand for the generic. I know the anticipated dates of many brands through 2022. You can bet the manufacturers do too. Why then, when the generic is launched, is the new trend to short supply the marketplace?
Cymbalta. It was on a manufacturer backorder for most of December. Why? The generic was due so Lilly was slowing production. The generic was launched before Christmas. We filled prescriptions for 2 days. When we tried to order it on day 3, it was in limited supply. Why? It's not like a PS4 or Xbox One. It's not a new iPhone. It's not as if the manufacturers couldn't anticipate demand or make enough. The brand data were there for years.
Guess who has to be the bad guy. Pharmacists. We don't know how to order. How could we not anticipate such a blockbuster generic launch? Fill it for brand. Why is brand so expensive? Why do I have to go without it? I'm going to Walgreen's...CVS...Wal-Mart...wherever. They know how to order what I need.
Tamiflu has one season a year to manufacture and sell their product. They advertise it and still can't get it right. But out-of-stock generic launches mystify me. They can't even use the excuse of creating supply-and-demand. There is a known demand for it. All they have to do is meet the demand.
What makes the situation even worse is when the first generic to hit the market for its 6-month exclusivity run is...manufactured by the brand company. Yep. Same capsules/tablets, different bottles, different price to you. They are the same company. The same medicine. How can it be on backorder? You can't make money if you don't have product to sell.
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