Using Multiple Authorized Generics to Maintain High Prices: The Example of Entacapone

Value Health. 2023 Mar;26(3):370-377. doi: 10.1016/j.jval.2022.08.013. Epub 2022 Oct 17.


Objectives: Brand-name drug manufacturers can market or license authorized generics (AGs), which are the same product sold under a generic name. By contrast, independent generics (IGs) are made by other manufacturers. The brand-name manufacturer of entacapone, a treatment for Parkinson's disease, established 4 AGs before IGs emerged. We used this case study to understand how AGs can affect the length of brand-name exclusivity and robustness of generic competition.

Methods: Using public Food and Drug Administration and court records, we identified the regulatory and legal history for generic entacapone products marketed through 2021. We used Medicare Part D data to estimate trends in use, prices, and spending on entacapone products from 2011 to 2020, comparing actual spending with projected spending if IG competition had begun after expiration of the key patent protecting entacapone (October 2013) and prices had fallen consistent with levels observed for other generic drugs.

Results: From 2012 to 2014, 3 potential entacapone IG manufacturers instead launched AG versions after settlement agreements with the brand-name manufacturer; the brand-name manufacturer additionally introduced its own AG. Four different IG versions were marketed beginning in 2015. From 2011 to 2020, average Medicare prices declined by 62%, less than the projected 74% to 92% price decline expected for a drug with 8 generics. Over this period, Medicare spent $1.1 billion on entacapone products, which could have been reduced by an estimated $137 to $449 million through typical IG competition.

Conclusions: The case of entacapone demonstrates how licensing multiple AGs in place of IG competition can increase spending. Government regulators should more rigorously monitor AGs to prevent such strategies.

Keywords: Medicare spending; Parkinson’s disease; authorized generics; entacapone; generic drugs; prescription drug policy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Catechols
  • Drug Costs
  • Drugs, Generic*
  • Humans
  • Medicare Part D*
  • Nitriles
  • United States


  • entacapone
  • Drugs, Generic
  • Nitriles
  • Catechols