When a drug goes off patent, its market share is supposed to plummet. That’s not what happened with Zocor, Merck & Co., Inc.’s blockbuster cholesterol drug. By the end of the first month after Zocor’s patent expired in June, the company managed to hang on to about 50 percent of new prescriptions, according to data from Wolters Kluwer Health. Typically a brand-name company loses 70-90 percent of the market.

Merck managed the feat without going to court. Instead, the drug company cut deals with a generic drug maker and with managed care companies, including UnitedHealth Group, Inc., to sell brand name Zocor at generic prices.

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