Most pharma execs move away from branded meds

Has Big Pharma lost faith in patented drugs? A new survey from consultants Roland Berger suggests a plague of doubt. Two-thirds of large drugmakers are aiming to diversify away from branded meds, the Financial Times reports, because they're increasingly skeptical that future R&D will deliver solid returns.

Among 50 top industry executives, 65 percent said pharma is facing a strategic crisis, and two-thirds consider diversification as a potential solution. Most companies are focusing on some combination of generics, consumer health and vaccines, with emerging-markets expansion thrown in for good measure. According to the Berger report, Sanofi-Aventis has managed the biggest shift from branded drugs; by 2009, its non-patented drug sales had grown the 12 percent from 5 percent in 2004.

But Berger's consultants think there's a better way to diversify, by integrating drugs with diagnostics, genetics, and medical devices, to deliver personalized healthcare. Healthcare providers and insurers would love it, Berger says. Most pharma executives are shying away from the idea, however, because of the massive change required. Maybe pharma's loss of faith is more general: As one executive told Roland Berger, "The industry does not trust its own innovative capabilities."

- see the FT story