The Patent Cliff: Analytical Instruments Climb as Pharmaceuticals Face a Long Descent

The Patent Cliff: Analytical Instruments Climb as Pharmaceuticals Face a Long Descent

US demand for analytical instruments is forecast to total $50.2 billion in 2021. Much of this increased demand stems from the need for pharmaceutical companies to produce novel drugs in the face of a laundry list of expiring patents in the coming months and years. Without new pharmaceutical developments, companies’ profits will plummet as their blockbuster medications are exposed to competition from third parties producing generic formulations.

Patents Taking a Tumble

As with all patents, pharmaceutical patents are issued with a specific time period of product protection set from the start. Though many companies seek to extend their patents, when they ultimately do expire, companies must turn to the development of new blockbuster drugs to maintain protection from generic and biosimilar alternatives. This year has been particularly problematic for pharmaceutical companies, with 18 branded drugs losing patent protection.

A Risky Climb

As drugs get cheaper following patent expiration, pharmaceutical companies must devote more and more money to research and development of new products. This may prove to be beneficial for the public, as novel treatments for illnesses and disorders may come to market that otherwise would not have been discovered or created, but the process is hit-or-miss from the point of view of the drug companies. Not every development will be the next Viagra – the patent for which also expires this year. Companies are likely to be forced to sustain significant losses in the process in order to provide for the creation of profitable pharmaceuticals going forward.

Summiting the Cliff

Pfizer, the company responsible for creating Viagra, intends to ride out the descent down the patent cliff and start the climb again by releasing their own generic formulation of their previously patented drug. Additionally, like most drug companies, Pfizer will continue to focus significant funding on the development of new drugs through investment in updated analytical laboratory instruments and expanded research laboratories, driving growth in the segment for years to come.

Want to Learn More?

Don’t worry, we have you covered! For additional information and analysis of US industry trends, see Analytical Instruments: United States, a report published by the Freedonia Focus Reports division of The Freedonia Group. This report forecasts US analytical instrument demand and shipments in US dollars at the manufacturer level to 2021. Total demand and shipments are segmented by product in terms of:

  • laboratory instruments
  • process control instruments
  • electrical measuring equipment
  • other instruments such as those for materials testing, meteorological observation, and surveying

While you’re there, check out some of our related reports, which include Control Technologies: United States, Energy: United States, and Industrial Valves: United States.

About the Author

Chris Dyer is a Market Research Analyst for Freedonia Focus Reports. He holds a Master of Arts in Security Studies, and his experience as an analyst covers multiple industries.