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April 25, 2005
What Ails the Germans?
This article from Germany's Deutsche Welle looks at what ever became of the once-mighty German pharmaceutical industry. It's worth a quick look, but not for the reasons the author intended.
For one thing, if Hoechst ever "dominated the industry", as the piece has it, I must have missed it. And Lipitor isn't "one of several home runs" by Pfizer. It was a home run by Warner-Lambert, co-opted by Pfizer after the big risks had already been taken. It's true that Schering AG's "share price on the DAX index dropped 13 percent" since March, but it's worth noting that the DAX as a whole dropped nearly 5% in that period. Bayer, for its part, hasn't completely "focused on over-the-counter drugs like Aspirin+C", but is also trying to climb out of its hole with new cancer and cardiovascular drugs.
And, finally, the article states that many companies outside Germany "have overcome costly drug development and marketing channels (by) merging." What on Earth has Hoechst been doing since about 1990 except merging with everyone that'll have them? And if they've convinced themselves in Germany that mergers are the cure for the drug industry's ills, then the darkest days for the country's pharma sector are still to come.
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