Say goodbye to Big Pharma's gilded age

Yes, generic competition has become something of a mantra in the drug industry. But we're going to start the chant again, because The Wall Street Journal took a close look at just how much revenue the industry will lose over the next few years--and posits that Big Pharma's gilded age will soon be history.

Generics are expected to cut $67 billion from top drug makers' annual U.S. sales between 2007 and 2012. Sound sustainable? Not if you know that $67 billion amounts to half those companies' total U.S. revenues. Overall, industry revenue is expected to drop between 2011 and 2012, the first decrease in 40 years.

Meanwhile, as we know, the number of new drugs coming online has slowed. Between 2002 and 2006, pharma launched 43 percent fewer meds based on new chemicals, compared with the last five years of the 1990s. Development in some areas has all but stopped.

And with widespread restructuring, Big Pharma won't look like Big Pharma anymore, analysts say: "The era that created the modern pharmaceutical industry is in fact over," one predicted. Even pharma's own executives are speaking in eulogistic tones. Says Sidney Taurel (photo), chairman of Eli Lilly, "I think the industry is doomed if we don't change."

- read the report from The Wall Street Journal