SOURCE: The Bedford Report

The Bedford Report

October 26, 2011 08:16 ET

Big Pharma Tackles Asia as Major Patent Cliffs Loom

The Bedford Report Provides Equity Research on Pfizer & Merck

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Oct 26, 2011) - With several patent cliffs looming, companies in the Drug Manufacturing sector are adopting different strategies to ensure their own health once several drugs open up to generic copies. As a result, acquisition and buyout rumors have begun surfacing at increased rates. The Bedford Report examines investing opportunities in the Drug Manufacturers - Major industry and provides stock research on Pfizer, Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK). Access to the full company reports can be found at:

This November, Pfizer's heart drug, Lipitor, will come off-patent -- and by next June, there are likely to be multiple generic versions. Lipitor, the world's biggest-selling drug, had second quarter global sales of $2.6 billion, including $1.4 billion in the United States.

In August Pfizer filed a law suit against Merck to stop the rival from marketing a pill combining a generic version of Lipitor with Zetia (ezetimibe). Merck's Zetia blocks absorption of cholesterol within the digestive tract, as opposed to statins like Lipitor that work within the liver. The Merck drug cannot be approved by the FDA for at least 30 months, according to federal laws that govern generic drugs.

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One major industry trend has been to focus on emerging healthcare markets where growth is strong in order to help offset upcoming domestic uncertainty. "Emerging market activity will be a source of out-performance for pharma stocks," thinks Dr Gbola Amusa, Managing Director, Global Pharmaceuticals Sector Co-ordinator and Head of European Pharmaceuticals Research at UBS. "Emerging markets for pharma are now just big enough to matter," said Dr Amusa. "They are up from 5% of [Big Pharma's] business five years ago to 20-30 percent."

Merck has said that it has "significantly reduced" the number of sales reps in developed markets. The company's goal is to grow sales in emerging markets from 18 percent to 25 percent by 2013.

Over the last three years, Pfizer has put forth plans to capture greater revenues in emerging markets. Back in 2008, the company said that it plans to increase its market share in Asia by 2 percent -- reaching 6 percent -- by 2012.

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