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Drugmakers Poised to Report Biggest Profit Decline Since 2006

Pfizer Inc. and rival U.S. drugmakers are poised to report the industry’s biggest drop in quarterly profit in more than four years as the companies cope with record patent losses in 2011.

Earnings at the 11 drugmakers listed in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index probably fell 1.4 percent in the first quarter, even as overall profit for companies in the index may have gained 12 percent to a record, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Pharmaceutical profits last fell in 2009’s first quarter, and the current drop is the biggest since a 3.5 percent slip in the final quarter of 2006.