The business model at IMS Health ( RX), a company touted as "the world's leading provider of healthcare market intelligence," looks like a prescription for disaster. After thriving for years in a tough pharmaceutical environment, IMS suffered a painful third quarter and warned of chronic problems that could linger for some time to come. With pharmaceutical companies struggling to introduce new blockbuster drugs -- on which IMS data can be based -- IMS has finally seen demand for its services start to wane. During the latest quarter, in fact, weakness in IMS's core "information and analytics" business led to the company's first earnings miss in recent memory. Shares of IMS plummeted 22% to a new 52-week low of $22.99 following the company's dismal update. Investors had to hunt hard for good news, with some apparent strengths looking like weaknesses in the end. For example, IMS posted strong revenue of $534 million -- up 12% from a year ago -- that actually beat the consensus estimate. But rising demand for consulting services, which generate smaller margins than the company's main data supply business, led to that upside. Meanwhile, profits actually fell. Due in part to one-time charges, net income slid 18% to $57.1 million in the latest quarter. Even excluding special items, earnings fell below last year's levels, with earnings per share of 36 cents missing Wall Street targets by 4 cents.