Moody's downgrades pharma industry

As if Big Pharma didn't have enough challenges. Moody's Investors Services has downgraded the entire industry's credit rating, cutting its 12-month outlook to "Negative" from "Stable."

Upcoming patent expirations affect some 40 percent of most pharma companies' revenue, Moody's analyst Levesque noted. Big Pharma has been doing deals with biotech firms in hopes of boosting their pipelines--deals that require lots of cash. And though the industry has a lot of cash on its books, the rate at which it's burning it is a concern.

And then there are safety problems: liability-related, as with Merck and Vioxx; and FDA-related, with the agency increasingly asking for more information and new studies before approving new drugs.

- see the report from the Houston Chronicle
- check out this company-by-company risk breakdown

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