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R&D, Ruh-Roh

Pharmaceutical companies are watching their R&D costs go up, up, up, as they search for the next blockbuster drug amid dried-up pipelines and upcoming patent cliffs, reports The Guardian's Julia Kollewe. A recent Deloitte report shows that the cost of bringing a drug to market for the world's 12 biggest pharma companies has risen by more than 25 percent to about $1 billion this year from about $830 million in 2010, Kollewe says. Meanwhile, the number of late-stage drugs in development has dropped from 23 to 18 per company on average, she adds.

In the meantime, Pharmalot's Ed Silverman says returns on R&D investments are falling sharply. The same Deloitte report says that 10 out of the 12 companies surveyed show a decline of about 29 percent in their internal rate of return on R&D. "Specifically, the internal rate of return on R&D fell to 8.4 percent this year from 11.8 percent in 2010 from 8.4 percent the year before," Silverman says.