• U.S.

Prescription Drugs: Valium By Another Name

1 minute read

Taking Valium has become as much a part of modern life-styles as messy divorces and mounting credit-card bills. In 1984 Americans seeking temporary relief from anxiety filled 25 million prescriptions for the drug, making it the top-selling mild tranquilizer, with about 50% of the market. Valium earned $240 million in the U.S. last year for its Swiss-based manufacturer, Hoffmann- La Roche, which developed the drug in the early 1960s. Its price is high: patients pay as much as $25 for 100 5-mg tablets.

Last week, though, Hoffmann-La Roche’s patent on Valium expired. From now on, other companies will be able to market the drug under its generic name, diazepam. William Haddad, president of the Generic Pharmaceutical Industry Association, expects that within three months as many as ten firms will gain federal approval to sell the drug and will charge 80% less than Valium’s price. Hoffmann-La Roche makes its tablets with the letter V in the center to create brand identification, but it seems to be preparing for a drop in sales. In January the company laid off 9% of the work force at its U.S. subsidiary in Nutley, N.J.

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