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Valium withdrawn as patent expires

The Independent · January 30, 2002
by Steve Connor · Science Editor

Valium, brand name of one of the world's best known tranquillisers, will no longer be sold in the UK. Its maker, Roche, took the decision after the expiry of the patent.

Although Roche has stopped marketing Valium, other firms will continue to sell their own versions of the drug under the generic name of diazepam.

Valium was introduced in 1963 and its enormous success catapulted Roche into the pharmaceutical super-league, where the Swiss-based company remains one of the world's key players. The drug belongs to the family of benzodiazepines which are widely prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and sleep disorders, and as muscle relaxants and anti-convulsants.

In the 1960s, millions of people took Valium to relieve stress and to overcome insomnia, although there was a controversy over claims that the drug could lead to dependency in some pateints in some patients.

Roche said its principal role was developing new medicines and it was not unusual for a firm to discontinue a medicine after the patent had expired. There were many other tranquillisers available, it said.

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