Morning Coffee Jan 28 2011

Prognosis Still Poor for Pharma

By shareen pathak

Caution is the name of the game for pharmaceuticals this earnings season.

AstraZeneca and Novartis both warned in their earnings reports yesterday that patent expirations and U.S. health reform pressures may lead to grimmer times for the companies.

AstraZeneca, which reported a 5% decline in net profit, said in a statement that "the coming years will be challenging for the industry," citing loss of patents and competition from generics. Novartis, which reported a 2% drop in net profit, also pointed out that its Femara and Diovan drug patents are set to expire this year. The company cut 1,400 drug sales reps in the U.S. late last year.

The sector has been hit hard in recent years: product recalls, drug patent expirations, competition from cheaper generics and a slow R&D cycle. Last year, announced layoffs in pharma sales jobs were 45,263.

AstraZeneca and Novartis could not be reached for comment. (AstraZeneca, Novartis)



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