Branded drugs to eke out 1.3% growth to 2015

New numbers on just how patent losses will affect drug sales growth. Datamonitor expects the branded pharma companies to see just 1.3 percent growth through 2015. That's way down from the 7.1 percent annual growth rate Big Pharma enjoyed from 2003 to 2009, the market research firm says. Reasons for this decline include top-selling drugs going off patent, the emergence of few new potential blockbusters to replace those meds, and pricing pressures.

"The difficulty in developing new products, particularly those that can generate sufficient sales to compensate for blockbuster expiries, has compounded this problem," Datamonitor's Simon King says in a statement.  But there's a silver lining for companies that can manage to fill the patent-expiration revenue gap.

"[T]hose to offset it via revenue growth sourced from a high biologics focus or the targeting of niche indications and areas of high unmet need will therefore emerge as the best performers," King concludes. In other words, biotech drugs, rare diseases and other very specific targets.

Which are those companies? Datamonitor expects Bayer, Novartis, Roche and GlaxoSmithKline to be the only Big Pharmas generating above-average growth from now through 2015. These lucky few will post compound annual growth between 2.6 percent to 3.9 percent, the firm predicts.

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