Thursday, April 22, 2010

Big Pharma – Will It Get Any Better?

I’m still on this kick that life sciences and Big Pharma, in particular, are stuck and aren’t getting better anytime soon. I’ve been out trolling the Net looking for any hints of anything that might indicate either I’m wrong or there’s a turnaround coming soon. And, guess where this is going, I’m not finding much. In fact, I’m not finding anything. (I’m not counting spin doctoring materials churned out by Big Pharma. If you read those you’d run out and load up on their stocks.)

What I am finding tends to support what this blog has been saying for a while, Big Pharma’s not going anywhere anytime soon but down. I’d like to call out a blog which I recently came across whose author, Pharmboy a member at Phil’s Stock World, has recently posted a blog entitled “The Calm Before the Storm – Big Pharma Is Gonna Have Big Problems and Pfizer is the Biggest” ( ) that gives a detailed analysis of the trends affecting the industry.

Pharmboy (that’s a great name for a blogger isn’t it?) predicts that Big Pharma revenues will stop growing by 2014. He notes as this blog has that growth will have to come from acquisitions and explains how picking the right science will be essential for making the right investments. This is an important point, because some of the larger pharmaceutical companies are run by what I call professional managers, MBA types with a good handle on numbers, marketing, branding, and the like but who really don’t have a clue about the basic sciences let alone the complex, advanced theories that are behind modern drugs. The recent financial meltdown on Wall Street shows what happens when senior management loses touch with their products.

The blog also lists the major drugs coming off patent in the next several years and estimates that these represented $49.9 billion in 2009 revenues. One point where Pharmboy differs from this blog is that he believes some of the pharmaceutical companies, Novartis (NVS) and Merck (MRK) actually have good drug pipelines while Abbott’s (ABT) is weak but could be augmented by acquisitions.

Pfizer (PFE) is singled out for criticism for paying too much for Wyeth (WYE) and not keeping an eye on the science. He also writes about the inefficiencies and lack of innovation in a larger organization like Pfizer.

I’ve called out Pharmboy’s blog because it’s a very good summary of the issues facing Big Pharma today. What I want to know is when will the main stream media begin to take a closer look here as well? Finally, how about the financial community? When will they begin to challenge the valuations of Big Pharma?

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Contributed by Guy de Lastin

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