U.S. prescription sales grew modestly to $286.5 billion in 2007

NORWALK, Conn. IMS Health today released its annual U.S. Pharmaceutical Market Performance Review, reporting that overall sales growth in the U.S. prescription market moderated to 3.8 percent in 2007, compared with growth of more than 8 percent in 2006.

Total U.S. prescription sales reached $286.5 billion, with slower sales growth resulting from loss of exclusivity of branded medicines, fewer new product approvals, the leveling of year-over-year growth from the Medicare Part D program and the impact of safety issues, IMS Health reported. The 2006 growth was an anomaly, in other words, due to the implementation of Medicare Part D, but 2007’s slowing growth rate is a continued trend that began in 2001, according to the report

Compared with a 4.6 percent growth in 2006, total U.S. dispensed prescription volume grew at a 2.8 percent pace. The top five therapeutic categories—antidepressants, lipid regulators, codeine & combination pain medications, ace inhibitors and beta blockers—continued to lead the market in terms of prescription utilization.

“In 2007, the U.S. pharmaceutical market experienced its lowest growth rate since 1961,” said IMS’s Murray Aitken, senior vice president of Healthcare Insight. “Last year, we saw a continuing shift away from primary care classes to biotech and specialist-driven therapies, which grew at a 9 percent and 10 percent pace, respectively. Among the leading therapy classes, oncology drugs continued their rapid growth, at 14 percent—the result of innovative new medicines, expanded indications and accelerated uptake of products to fill unmet needs.”

Sales of lipid regulators declined by 15.4 percent year-over-year, though continued to represent the largest therapy class in the nation, with prescription sales of $18.4 billion. Proton pump inhibitors ranked second, with prescription sales of $14.1 billion and growth of 2.8 percent. Antipsychotics replaced antidepressants as the third-largest therapeutic class in 2007, with prescription sales growth of 12.1 percent to $13.1 billion. 

The IMS report forecasts compound annual pharmaceutical sales growth through 2012 of 3 percent to 6 percent, based on predicted loss of exclusivity in major therapy areas, new specialist-driven products, greater levels of therapeutic substitution, and greater awareness and focus on safety issues.

“We will see additional lower-cost treatment options for many patients, while new and innovative therapies are delivered to specific patient groups, such as those suffering with cancer. Safety issues will be closely monitored and are likely to bring added caution to the market over the next several years,” said Aitken.

More information can be found at www.imshealth.com/media.

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