By the time the ball drops in Times Square this year, branded drug sales will have dropped 3.5%. So says a new report on U.S. spending, which pegs this year's decline at that rate--and forecasts an annual decline of 2.6%, on average, over the next several years.
With megablockbuster products now off patent, branded drug sales were destined to slip. Pfizer's ($PFE) Lipitor, AstraZeneca's ($AZN) Seroquel, Eli Lilly's ($LLY) Zyprexa, Sanofi ($SNY) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) Plavix, Merck's ($MRK) Singulair--all of these multibillion-dollar drugs have succumbed to generic competition in recent months, taking a major bite out of 2012 revenues.
Drugmakers have racked up some impressive new approvals over the past 18 months. But the payoff from these drugs--most of which are expensive specialty products--won't come immediately, at least in most cases. Regeneron's ($REGN) Eylea drug may be the sole exception; approved by the FDA in November 2011, the injectable remedy for wet age-related macular degeneration has beat sales expectations in a big way. It's now projected to bring in $790 million this year.
As new products ramp up and old ones continue to fall off patent--and as U.S. payers look to squeeze prices and spending as much as possible--declining sales will take their toll on employment, too, the report from IBISWorld says. Jobs in the pharma business are projected to decline by almost 1% per year on average through 2017.
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