Patent 'cliff' looms for Big Pharma

A new report says that the next decade will see a sharp spike in the number of generic drugs coming into the $643 billion global pharmaceutical market. Datamonitor says that knockoffs for drugs that earn $140 billion in sales will lose patent protection by 2016. Lipitor will be one of the next blockbusters to face a copycat competitor, which can reduce the price of a drug by as much as 80 percent in a matter of months. For some pharma companies, the loss of patent protection amounts to a "patent cliff" that seriously threatens the bulk of their revenue. This trend, though, has a distinct silver lining for the biotech industry. With patent deadlines looming, many of these same drug companies have been budgeting huge sums to either buy out promising developers or pay significant premiums to license key markets.

- read the AFX report on the patent trend

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