Drugmakers Like Roche (RHHBY) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Bet on New Blockbusters in 2013
1/15/2013 6:37:22 AM
Drugmakers are betting that a new wave of medicines for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and hepatitis will shape up as tomorrow's blockbusters in the coming 12 months. With the industry regaining some of its swagger after winning 39 new drug approvals last year - a record only beaten in 1996 - there are signs the improving trend could continue through 2013. Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Biogen Idec, Gilead Sciences and Novo Nordisk are among those with important new products reaching a critical point in development this year. The industry needs a winning streak after delivering poor returns for years due to a wave of patent expiries. Now companies are emerging from that patent "cliff" and the balance of losses to new opportunities is improving. European drugmakers, for example, have the potential to deliver new drugs from 2013 to 2015 with peak annual sales of $64 billion (or $27 billion after adjusting for the risk of failure), while fresh patent losses in the period will be only $12 billion, according to Deutsche Bank estimates. Simon Friend, global pharmaceutical leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, agrees the picture is improving. But he warns it is still too early to say that drug companies are out of the woods, especially with governments and insurers taking an increasingly tough line on paying for new medicines. "Productivity is starting to turn the corner - but the other big issue is whether the industry can get the prices it needs for new products," he said. Still, analysts say interest in the sector from growth funds is now picking up and investors are taking a closer look at drug BIOGEN AIMS FOR BEST IN CLASS A number of key research and development bets on potential multibillion-dollar-a-year products will play out in 2013. One of the most highly anticipated approvals of the year, likely to come in the first quarter, is for Biogen's multiple sclerosis (MS) drug BG-12.