Generic drugs are siphoning significant revenue from several of the biggest U.S. drugmakers. Pfizer, Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb were especially hard-hit during the first quarter.
All three saw revenue drop 9 percent or more in the January-March quarter – largely due to sales nosediving for drugs that had each provided 10 percent or more of annual revenue. At Pfizer, revenue declined mostly due to the December 2011 arrival of two generic versions of Lipitor. The cholesterol-fighting drug had reigned as the world’s top seller for nearly a decade. Several more copycat versions arrived last May. At its peak, Lipitor had brought Pfizer $13 billion a year. Revenue was down to $626 million in the first quarter, an annualized rate of $2.5 billion.
Bristol-Myers got hammered the worst. Generic competition decimated sales of Plavix, which accounted for 32 percent of 2012 revenue. First-quarter revenue fell 27 percent, and net income sank 45 percent.
The drugmakers are pursuing various tactics to bolster their revenue, including raising prices, selling more drugs in emerging markets, and developing new medicines, particularly pricey ones for cancer and rare diseases.Associated Press