Bio-pharm-med reacting to change

Pfizer isn’t the only drug company struggling, what with potentially losing some of its big revenue items like Celebrex to patient health concerns and Lipitor and other drugs to patent expirations or challenges. Schering-Plough, Merck & Co. and others face similar hurdles.

This Washington Post reporter wonders whether pushing billion-dollar products is the right business model in an era of dramatically rising concern over drug costs. As we invent more new medicines and treatments, people’s health coverage shrinks and the costs must be borne by more patients who are less able to pay.

Pfizer is looking at cutting its sales force and focusing more on internal research. They spent $7.7 billion last year alone–some of it in licensing fees and revenue sharing with other companies (lots of little guys partner with Pfizer for its marketing muscle–they have 2000 alliances which also contribute 1/3 of revenue).

So how would we replace the model of the giant company taking the little guys under its wing? As the government watchdogs ever more closely its researchers’ relationships with private companies, the entrepreneurial spirits out there could lose some of their biggest supporters.

Without that kind of help, many in the biomed and biotech sectors may have to start circling the wagons and plotting out their lonely passage across the mountains just as so many entrepreneurs in business and industry have had to start doing in the last decade. It will be interesting to see what effect this might have on the wild and wooly careening of the biomed sector to the top of everyone’s hopes for job creation and revenue generation.