A patent currently prevents any generic Combivent from being manufactured in the United States. It is unclear when a generic version could become available, as the Combivent Respimat inhaler has over 20 patents. It is unknown which of these patents is protecting the drug from generic competition.
Combivent® (ipratropium and albuterol inhaler) is a prescription medication used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Combivent contains two separate medications: ipratropium bromide and albuterol sulfate. Ipratropium belongs to a group of medications known as anticholinergics or antimuscarinics, and albuterol is part of a class of drugs called beta-adrenergic receptor agonists, or beta agonists for short.
Combivent is made by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals. It is currently under the protection of a patent that prevents any generic Combivent from being manufactured in the United States.
In order to comply with the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer, Combivent inhalers (in their original form) will not be available after July 2013 because they contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), chemicals that deplete the ozone layer. A new formulation, Combivent Respimat, became available starting in October 2012. People using the old Combivent inhaler will need to get a new prescription in order to switch to the new Combivent Respimat inhaler.
The first patent for the old formulation of Combivent was set to expire in June 2015. This would have been the earliest date that a generic version of the drug could have become available. Generic versions of the old formulation will not be allowed, since they would contain CFCs.There are over 20 patents for the new Combivent Respimat inhaler that are listed with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the first of which expired in 2012 and the last of which expires in March 2028. It is unclear which of these patent(s) will actually protect the drug from generic competition, but it would be highly unlikely that a generic version could be expected any time before June 2015, since the old inhaler would have been protected until then, too.