The “patent cliff,” a term used to describe the ongoing expiry of various prescription medications, has started. As a result of this patent cliff, India’s pharmaceutical companies hope to make millions in profits by capitalizing off of generic versions of name brand medications like Levaquin.

In the next three years, countless prescription medications like Levaquin will lose their patent protection. When this happens, drug companies in various countries like China and India can make a huge profit off of generic versions of these drugs. Patents generally protect the original makers of name brand drugs for about 20 years of exclusive rights to sell them. Once that time period expires, other drug companies can start making cheaper versions of the pills and sell them. What this means is that when the patent protection expires, the first company to challenge the patent will get to sell the drug exclusively for a period of 180 days. That is plenty of time to profit before other companies start selling their own versions.

The antibiotic medication Levaquin is set to be one of those drugs. Levaquin is used to treat various infections, including sinus infections. The drug has also been linked to adverse side effects including tendon ruptures which have caused many patients to file lawsuits. The tendon ruptures are generally linked to elderly patients and those who are taking corticosteroids, but younger patients have also suffered from tendon ruptures after taking Levaquin. Some people have even accused the makers of Levaquin of purposely marketing the drug to seniors, who are more susceptible to the adverse effects. If that claim is true, senior patients in countries like China and India are more likely to suffer from adverse effects linked to Levaquin.

With so many dangers linked to the drug in the United States, it is a wonder that other countries want to sell it at all.