Add 'uninsured' to pharma's problems

We all know the challenges pharma faces: generic competition, patent expirations, sluggish pipelines, pricing pressures. Or do we? A new study suggests that the huge volume of uninsured and underinsured people may be seriously cutting into drugmakers' sales. Millions of Americans have chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure--the kind of disorders that keep patients on meds for years--but aren't being treated because they don't have insurance.

The study estimates that one in three of uninsured adults has a chronic illness that's going untreated--that's about 11 million people (and some say that's an underestimate, that it might be more like 16 million). The study's lead author notes that treatments for these illnesses are standard and widely available if you do have insurance. And we know what those treatments are: meds, meds and more meds.

- read the story in the New York Times