The Wall Street Journal apresenta hoje uma reportagem bem objetiva, acompanhada de quadro mostrando que todos os grandes produtos da Big Pharma em cinco anos poderão ser vendidos como genéricos. Entende-se a nova linha de "pesquisa-marketing" de remédios combinados, p.ex. hipertensão e dislipidemia, como um jeito de aumentar o período de patente.
Big Pharma Faces Grim Prognosis Industry Fails to FindNew Drugs to ReplaceWonders Like Lipitor By BARBARA MARTINEZ and JACOB GOLDSTEIN
December 6, 2007; Over the next few years, the pharmaceutical business will hit a wall. Some of the top-selling drugs in industry history will become history as patent protections expire, allowing generics to rush in at much-lower prices. Generic competition is expected to wipe $67 billion from top companies' annual U.S. sales between 2007 and 2012 as more than three dozen drugs lose patent protection. That is roughly half of the companies' combined 2007 U.S. sales. At the same time, the industry's science engine has stalled. The century-old approach of finding chemicals to treat diseases is producing fewer and fewer drugs. Especially lacking are new blockbusters to replace old ones like Lipitor, Plavix and Zyprexa. The coming sales decline may signal the end of a once-revered way of doing business. "I think the industry is doomed if we don't change," says Sidney Taurel, chairman of Eli Lilly & Co. Just yesterday, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. announced plans to cut 10% of its work force, or about 4,300 jobs, and close or sell about half of its 27 manufacturing plants by 2010. Between 2011 and 2012, annual industry revenue will decline, estimates Datamonitor, a research and consulting firm. That would be the first decline in at least four decades. Patent expirations are a big problem. Drugs are granted 20 years of patent protection, although companies often fail to get a product to market before half of that period has elapsed. Once it hits the market, however, the patent-protected drug is highly profitable: Typical gross margins are 90% to 95%. When patents expire, generic makers offer the products at a price much closer to the cost of production. Pfizer Inc. will be particularly hard-hit when the patent expires as early as 2010 on Lipitor, the cholesterol-lowering blockbuster that ranks as the most successful drug ever. Pharmacists and managed-care companies will aggressively fill prescriptions with generics, reducing annual Lipitor sales to a fraction of last year's $13 billion.