Swallowing A Bitter Pill

The high-flying pharmaceutical industry may get its wings clipped this year. U.S. drug companies still lead the world in research and development and rule its largest drug market. But they'll feel pressure on profits, as several major drugs lose patent protection. Prices could get pinched, too, as President-elect Clinton starts his drive against soaring health-care costs. Analysts figure the industry's aftertax margins could drop to 13%--one percentage point below last year's level and down six points from 1991--even as sales rise 10%, to about $82.5 billion.

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