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PHARMA: Pharma no longer a safe haven?

Merck, which span off Medco as featured in the previous story on today’s THCB, has not been having such a good time as its former subsidiary. It’s recent lay-offs of over 4,000 has lead to the now quite widespread belief in New Jersey that the sky is falling.  For instance this Reuters’ article says that the pharmaceutical area (is) no longer (a) safe haven for jobs.  It raises all the issues that THBC readers will be familiar with–Canadian imports, drying pipelines, Medicare drug coverage, expiring patents, government probes, generic competition, and more.

Perhaps it’s time for a little perspective here. No question that pharma is in a tight spot compared to the cream and jelly days of the late 1990s. However, this industry has always been tremedously profitable.  Some of my former colleagues some time ago went to see a company that’s now part of a giant UK conglomerate (the corporate name has expired but think of a common greeting). They toured the research facility and were amazed at the plushness, the marble sinks and the general over-abundance.  Their host noticed their observations and after noting that the policy consulting guys were always telling them to not be out in front with their profitability, said "we had to hide the money somewhere!" Even if big pharma’s profits fell by half, it would still be the most profitable business in America!

The last time the stock market beat down the Pharma stocks was in 1994.  If you’d bought Merck stock then at between $14 and $18, you’d still be very happy now.

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  1. I’m waiting eagerly for the day Medco DOES FAIL! I’m one of their unfortunate customers, forced to be so by my so called health insurance. Medco is in the business of making customers miserable instead of supplying medications. Time after time, I have to do battle with them to get what my doctor has prescribed. They’ve held prescriptions for over a month once or twice, and a wait on over three weeks in not uncommon.
    They even called up my doctor once to demand that she change my prescription because I already had that WATER PILL from another doctor. Yes, I did, but I was using the last three week supply of an expired prescription. The old doctor who prescribed it had moved away, and the new doctor had written the new prescription. Needless to say, the new doctor now thought I was a water pill druggie, and Medco thought I had a street corner market for those little suckers! I think one can find all over the internet that it has been found that Levoxyl for thyroid conditions is not very effective because it has been proven to dissolve in your mouth even before you can swallow it. NO, can’t put it in applesauce or icecream to make it go down faster, because with thyroid medication, one must wait at least a half-hour (an hour is recommended) before consuming any food. Otherwise, the medication doesn’t work at all. Lots of legitimate pharmacies have begun refusing to give Levoxyl to their customers for this very reason. Guess what I got last time from Medco??? LEVOXYL, the stuff that has to be gotten rid of. There’s no way to even tell if their drugs are out of date, which I suspect many are. If one tries to talk to their customer service people, they will usually be ridiculed. As I told them once, I have no prescriptions for anything other than high blood pressure related problems, and the thyroid problem. If not for having to deal with them, the blood pressure problem would likely take care of itself! If you have any choices in your health care, SAY “NO!” to Medco!!!!

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