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Sales and earnings for the world's major drug producers have been taking a severe beating from competing generic drugs. According to IMS Health, generics account for nearly 45% of all prescriptions and are enjoying an annual growth rate of 13%. Meanwhile, beginning in the first quarter of this year, brand-name drug producers saw their earnings growth fall into the single digits, then slow to zero, and, in the most recent quarter, actually decline.

Combined third-quarter sales for 15 global pharmaceutical producers rose to $68.8 billion, up 4.0% compared with the same period last year. However, overall earnings for the group declined 2.8% to $14.0 billion. The situation was only slightly better for the first nine months of 2002--sales were up 4.7% to $203 billion, while earnings slipped 0.9% to $43.1 billion. Roche is not included because it reported only nine-month sales, which were flat at $14.8 billion.---->

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