Conditions are deteriorating. Anyone who keeps a close eye on pharma forecasts knows that. Patent expirations are already buffeting drugmakers, and even more are on their way. In fact, as we reported last week, blockbuster drugs netting several billions in annual sales lose their patent protection this year, including Pfizer's megablockbuster Lipitor.
Drugmakers have been scrambling to prepare for the storm: Merging with big rivals to fortify themselves (Pfizer-Wyeth, Merck-Schering-Plough); buying up smaller firms in generics, emerging markets and consumer healthcare (Sanofi-Aventis and GlaxoSmithKline, for two); and slashing payrolls and cutting overall costs.