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A downer for drug makers

Janet Babin May 3, 2007
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A downer for drug makers

Janet Babin May 3, 2007
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SCOTT JAGOW: Raise your hand if you feel sorry for drug companies. I didn’t think so. But they do lose billions of dollars when competitors make generic versions of the drugs they’ve spent years developing. A new study takes a look at this. Janet Babin reports from our Innovations Desk at North Carolina Public Radio.


JANET BABIN: The report from Datamonitor says drug makers will lose $140 billion in sales by 2016.

By then, patents will expire on top-selling medicines like Lipitor and Plavix. Other companies will swoop in and sell generic versions for a fraction of the price.

These top sellers took years to develop, and were well worth the effort, but the number of drugs in the pipeline to replace them is dwindling.

Some say the blockbuster model of drug discovery is dead, but Miller Tabak analyst Les Funtleyder says it’s just been a bad few years for research and development.

LES FUNTLEYDER: Drug R&D is a bit cyclical and so you see new classes of drugs come out at the same time — maybe it’s a function of technology, maybe it’s a function of other discoveries — and so they tend to cluster.

But without new compounds by 2009, Funtleyder says top pharma companies will have to pare down or consolidate if they want to make money.

I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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