Datamonitor: Reform 'mixed' for drugmakers

You've heard some sound bites about just how healthcare reform stands to benefit--or hurt--the pharma industry. Sanofi-Aventis CEO Chris Viehbacher has said it would have a neutral to slightly negative effect, but would be better than life without reform. PhRMA has warned of tough choices ahead as drugmakers pay for those billions in agreed-upon cost cuts. And plenty of pundits have pointed out that pharma would get access to more than 30 million new customers.

But what do the numbers experts say? A new report from Datamonitor calls the post-reform outlook "mixed." At first, pharma will see a drop in sales because of newly imposed rebates and discounts, and new industry fees. But beginning in 2015, revenues will rise again as volume increases (many of the insurance provisions go into effect in 2014).

But in the long, long run, the strain of rising costs will put pressure on private and public payers, and that in turn could depress the pharma market. We might see a revival of calls for Medicare price negotiation and drug re-importation then, the firm theorizes. And if payers use these strategies, pharma growth in the U.S. would slow.

Of course, all these predictions are just that: Predictions. When some 32 million new customers come onto the insurance rolls, just about anything could happen.

- see the Datamonitor release