Bill Kennally’s job is to keep other generics companies from eating Pfizer’s lunch—or the leftovers thereof.
Kennally is president of Greenstone, Pfizer’s generics unit. Greenstone is a giant in its own right—the 10th-largest pharma company in the world by volume of prescriptions dispensed, though you wouldn’t know going by its size. While he won’t disclose headcount, Kennally concedes that it’s a “pretty small operation,” with a modest sales and operations staff.
But Greenstone is a big business, cranking out 28 old Pfizer drugs, including many onetime blockbusters like azithromycin (Zithromax), sertraline HCl (Zoloft), gabapentin (Neurontin) and now amlodipine besylate, the drug formerly known as Norvasc. Greenstone’s Norvasc is, like the rest of its portfolio, an unbranded, “authorized generic” rolled out as soon as the patent expired in March and eating into the 180-day “first to file” exclusivity period of the company authorized by FDA to produce the first generic—in this case, Mylan.
Because they are already licensed by FDA to manufacture the drug, companies like Greenstone and J&J’s Patriot can just pick up where their parents left off upon expiration. Not surprisingly, independent generics makers are miffed about this, complaining the practice hurts the public interest by providing a disincentive to their participation.
“We compete in the pure generic marketplace, and we try to garner our fair share,” says Kennally—typically 20%-50%, depending on the number of competitors for a given product.
“Competition lowers pricing, which provides some added value to our patients, pharmacies and payors,” he says.
The price of a generic drug depends on the competition. If only one firm makes a generic, says Kennally, it typically goes for 70% of the cost of the branded drug. In a two-player market, it might go for 60%. Add a third player, and the price drops to 40% or lower.
So, the more the merrier, right? The business certainly doesn’t seem to be suffering any—the number of ANDA submissions for generics, Kennally notes, is currently at an all-time high.
Having pressed their case unsuccessfully at FDA and in the courts, the generics lobby is now pinning its hopes on the FTC and Congress. Kennally isn’t sweating it.
“Never in the history of this country has there been a situation where an intellectual property owner was prohibited from licensing its product for resale,” he says.
Greenstone was launched in 1993 by Upjohn, intended as a short-term stopgap between patent expirations and new product launches, but proved highly successful, and so survived the Pharmacia and Pfizer acquisitions.
Kennally joined Upjohn in 1977 as a rep, and served in a variety of sales positions throughout the ’80s before moving up to frontline management in 1989. In 1999, he was tasked with designing a new sales force incentive program for the combined Upjohn and Searle sales forces following the merger of Monsanto and Pharmacia & Upjohn. A year later, he took over as director of operations at Greenstone, working his way up to general manager and then president.
When he’s not launching generics, Kennally indulges in fishing and golf and hangs out with his family.
The native Bostonian also enjoys rooting for the Red Sox and the Patriots. He and his wife recently had a pool installed to lure their three kids—a son and two daughters, all in their twenties—back home, and he’s just become a grandfather to identical twins.
Greenstone, dir. to president
Upjohn/Pharmacia, DM to senior manager
Upjohn, sales rep