Pharma faces "tidal wave" of generics

If Pharma thinks it has problems now...well, you know the rest. According to The New York Times, the industry is on the leading edge of a "tidal wave of generic drugs," as a plethora of blockbuster meds begin to go off patent. Over the next five years, some $60 billion worth of drugs will go the way of the amoxicillins and erythromycins, making the average American's pharmacy bill drop significantly. The patent expirations will boost to bottom line of such generic drugmakers as Teva and Mylan Laboratories.

But what's good for the consumer's pocketbook isn't so great for Big Pharma. Moneymakers like J&J's Topamax and Risperdal, Pfizer's Lipitor and Novartis' Prevacid are all close to the cliff's edge of patent expiration. Meanwhile, the pipeline of new drugs has been shrinking; Pfizer, for example, killed 13 in-development drugs since December. Industry types say Pharma doesn't lack for innovation; the slowdown in new meds just shows it's tackling complex conditions like Alzheimer's and cancer that are tough to beat. Whether this is a legitimate reason for the slowdown or just an excuse, it doesn't matter to the tsunami on the horizon. This rising tide of generics may not sink all boats, but it could inflict some serious damage.

- check out the New York Times article