Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Big Pharma's megaprofits were supposed to bring new drugs. They didn't.

Another conservative myth bites the dust. Over the past decade big pharmaceutical companies have been among the most profitable entities on the planet. Supposedly, all this money was going to lead to a new wonder age of wonder drugs.

Well, it's not turning out that way. The New York Times reported that just in the next year, the drug industry faces the expiration of patents on more than 10 "megamedicines" that alone account for almost $50 billion in sales, about seven percent of the industry's world wide sales. And the kicker is - despite all the tens of billions the industry raked in the past decade, there are no new drugs that can be introduced to replace the massive revenue streams from the "megamedicines" with expiring patents. Instead, the industry repeatedly cut back its research and development staff, no doubt to become "more profitable." Though, of course, the New York Times correspondent lists a host of other problems afflicting the industry, such as "over-regulation."

Drug Firms Face Billions in Losses in ’11 as Patents End
by Duff Wilson

At the end of November, Pfizer stands to lose a $10-billion-a-year revenue stream when the patent on its blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor expires and cheaper generics begin to cut into the company’s huge sales.

The loss poses a daunting challenge for Pfizer, one shared by nearly every major pharmaceutical company. This year alone, because of patent expirations, the drug industry will lose control over more than 10 megamedicines whose combined annual sales have neared $50 billion.
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