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Drugmakers seek ways to deal with the 'patent cliff'

A technician works at Fukui Warp Knitting's textile factory. The company is collaborating with Teijin to develop pharmaceutical products using textile technology.

TOKYO   Despite knowing well in advance, a company loses 40% of its total revenue overnight and there is little or no hope of recovery. In the absence of a high-profile scandal, companies in most industries would consider themselves extremely unlucky to be facing a situation like this. But the problem is far from rare in the pharmaceutical industry.

     The culprit is substance patents, which are where much of the value in pharmaceuticals lies. Once the patent expires, the manufacturer can suffer a huge drop in sales as it falls off the proverbial patent cliff. Consequently, drugmakers are looking at a variety of ways of stepping back from the edge of the cliff, or at least not landing so hard when they fall.

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