Vantage Point: Pharmas should become diversified healthcare companies

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For several years now, people have been writing off the pharmaceutical industry. Blockbuster drugs losing their patents, in concert with decreasing numbers of drug approvals, have caused Wall Street to devalue this sector. The “generic cliff” coming up in the next few years has deepened this dismay. I repeatedly have written that pharmas should de-focus on drugs and focus on becoming diversified healthcare companies.

But just yesterday, I received an article from my son, a financial analyst, that perhaps paints a different picture. In the second quarter of 2009, the article reported, the FDA approved 13 new molecules, twice the average of six in the previous four quarters. A Morgan Stanley analyst believes that a March US Supreme Court ruling that drugmakers can still be held liable for a drug even if FDA approved has made the agency less risk averse.
Moreover, the roster of new drugs includes potentially important agents for the management of schizophrenia and diabetes. Traditional pharmas and biotechs are forming new and potentially significant partnerships to make these drugs successful. 

Because the industry that will emerge in rebirth will not be identical to the one we have historically known and loved, it also means that we had best begin immediately to adapt new methodologies and data sets to dealing with the opportunities and challenges presented by this new age.

People will keep getting sick, new and better medicines will continue to be developed to deal with illnesses and reasons are emerging to believe that, with appropriate modifications for marketing research procedures in the future, we can look forward to an exciting and profitable new era in the pharma sector.

Richard Vanderveer is CEO of GfK Healthcare

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