Drug firms have become more efficient in searching out new treatments, although their improved efforts do not show up in improved investment returns, said a new study on Tuesday, which indicated that low productivity in research labs is the largest single problem facing the world pharmaceutical industry, which must now replenish its medicine chest following a tsunami of patient expiries in 2012. Though the firms are getting a larger number of compounds into late-stage development, reflecting more effective research and development, turning those new products into big commercial stars is a tough proposition. The most recent annual evaluation of R&D productivity by Deloitte and Thomson Reuters showed that the number of new drug approvals rose by approximately 30 percent, while the anticipated revenue from the drugs actually dropped by a similar amount. Among firms analyzed included Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK), GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), Roche Holding (RHHBY.PK), Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE:SNY), and others. Overall, the world’s 12 leading pharma firms had 41 new drugs approved, with combined projected revenues of $211 billion, while the year-over-year tally was 32 products with expected revenues of $309 billion.
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