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LONDON (Reuters) – The number of new drugs approved in the United States this year has already topped last year’s 18-year high, yet large pharmaceutical companies are still struggling to get a decent return on their research dollars.

In fact, returns on research and development (R&D) spending by the world’s top drugmakers have fallen to just 4.2 percent, or less than half the 10.1 percent recorded in 2010, according to a report on Monday from consultancy Deloitte.

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