No reform? Look for more consolidation

Look out, pharma: More consolidation is on its way. At least that's what market experts are saying. With healthcare costs rising continually--and healthcare reform idling miserably--drugmakers will have no choice.

Just look at the demographics. The number of older people will continue to balloon. They'll need more healthcare than the younger people whose taxes are primarily footing the bill. And because there are comparatively fewer of those younger people, there will be lots of pressure to keep costs down. Meanwhile, federal budget pressures already are mounting, on drugmakers and healthcare in general.

That environment "certainly seems to favor bigger, innovative, scalable companies," Paul Keckley of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions told Bloomberg. So one obvious solution will be further consolidation.

Another? Healthcare reform. It's not a panacea for pharma, of course, but might help drugmakers make up in volume what they lose to pricing pressure. You may have seen that President Obama is convening a bipartisan summit to try to forge a compromise; we're a bit skeptical that it will yield much, but in Washington you just never know.

- read the Bloomberg piece
- get more from the Associated Press
- check out the Washington Post story