The most common strategy adopted by many large-scale Western pharmaceutical companies is to modify a patented compound to produce a new compound and apply for patent for it. But the premise is no violation of the original patent. “me-too” drug normally refers to a new kind of molecular entity. It has similar chemical structure or the same pharmacological effect with a certain drug that is already on the market. And it enjoys some advantages in treatment. . Sometimes, this “me-too” strategy is also called fast follower strategy. Pharmaceutical companies need to follow closely the newly disclosed drug patents, especially the drugs with new mechanism of action and chemical structure that have not come into the market yet.
The ideas and technologies of these drug patents are often groundbreaking. But the drug development is not mature enough, leaving some potential for modification. The transformation of proton pump inhibitor (PPI) by Japanese company Takeda is a successful case of “me-too” strategy. The first PPI, called omeprazole, was developed by Astra and came into the market in 1987. Then the second PPI, lansoprazole, developed by Takeda began to be sold in 1992. Both PPIs applied for the patent. Structural comparison indicates that lansoprazole is the analogue of omeprazole. That is to say, lansoprazole is a “me-too” drug.