Fact book touts distributors’ contribution to pharma sales

Distributor sales of healthcare products* Source: Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research

ARLINGTON, Va. —More than a quarter trillion dollars in pharmaceutical sales happened through primary healthcare distributors in 2009, according to the latest report from an organization representing them.

The Healthcare Distribution Management Association announced Sept. 24 the release of its “2010-2011 HDMA Factbook: The Facts, Figures & Trends in Healthcare.” The fact book, in its 82nd edition, includes nearly 170 other measures related to the healthcare distribution industry.

“The ‘HDMA Factbook’ sheds light on the tremendous efficiency involved in moving millions of medicines and healthcare products across the supply chain,” HDMA president and CEO John Gray said. “Such efficiency would not be possible without HDMA distributor members, who continue to safely delivery life-saving products to the right patient at the right time, while saving the healthcare system billions of dollars in the process.”

This year’s fact book found that pharmaceutical sales through primary distributors increased to nearly $263 billion, compared with $253 billion in 2008. 2008’s figure represented nearly 85% of the entire market. According to this year’s fact book, a typical HDMA member distribution center handled a daily average of 1,710 orders in 2009, delivering more than 91,000 products daily to pharmacies, clinics, long-term care facilities, hospitals and other outlets.

Data from the patient level seems to support the HDMA’s findings. According to IMS Health, prescription sales of drugs and insulin through retail and nonretail channels grew 5.1% to $300.3 billion in 2009, compared with 1.8% growth in 2008. Factors in that growth included stronger demand for prescription drugs, competitive practices by drug makers, inventory management by retail pharmacies, increased use of specialty drugs and a decreased effect from patent expiries. Antipsychotic drugs remained the top-selling therapeutic class as measured by sales, with sales of $14.6 billion, while lipid regulators were the largest class by dispensed prescriptions, with 211 million prescriptions, a 4% increase over 2008.

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