Big pharma’s struggles might benefit health plans

Projected slow sales growth for big pharmaceutical companies is an opportunity for health insurance plans to save money. The compound annual growth rate for big pharma companies from 2010 to 2016 will be 0.7 percent thanks to “generic erosion,” says Datamonitor, a business information and analysis company.

For pharmacy directors at health insurance plans, that means “more opportunity to control costs as a number of broad disease areas become genericized” with Lipitor (atorvastatin) being the most obvious example, says Simon King, principal analyst at Datamonitor.

A datamonitor study, “Big Pharma Company Outlook to 2016,” says that “a historic propensity for blockbuster-driven growth, which helped to drive sales at a compound annual rate of 7.6 percent over 2004-2010, will continue to unravel in the short to medium term as these multibillion dollar brands continue to attract the attention of an aggressive generics industry.”

King says that “the effect of the so-called patent cliff is clear through to 2014 when growth rates pick up marginally again before a slew of high-profile expiries hit in 2015 and 2016.” He cites Gleevec (imatinib) and Crestor (rosuvastatin).

“The major caveat here when assessing growth is that the forecast period does not obviously predict merger and acquisition activity, which acted as a key driver of growth from 2004 to 2009. The discrepancy in growth rates over 2004 to 2010 and 2010 to 2016 suggests that mergers and acquisitions are likely to continue despite what leading players suggest.”