IMS: U.S. pharma sales reach $300B, generic drug sales swell in 2009

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Last year, U.S. pharmaceutical sales reached $300.3 billion, rising 3.3 percent compared to 2008--5.1 percent over 1.8 percent--and the shift to generic brand drugs has significantly increased and affected market trends, based on a report published April 1 by IMS Health.

However, according to the market research firm, this rise is insignificant based on the increasing number of treatments and the patient demands for these treatments.

“While the 32 innovative products launched last year brought important new treatment options to patients in a number of disease areas, including cancer, thrombosis and atrial fibrillation, they drove only a limited increase in drug spending,” IMS stated.

According to IMS, stronger demands for prescriptions drugs, sustained drug pricing, inventory management actions, use of specialty pharmaceuticals and a lower impact of patent expiry contributed to the 3.3 percent growth.

“Stronger patient demand for prescription drugs throughout 2009, both for new therapy starts and refills, underscores the resilience of pharmacotherapies in today’s healthcare equation,” stated the report.

The report showed that generic drug prescriptions accounted for 75 percent of all of the administered U.S. prescriptions--a 54 percent rise from 2004. In 2009, rates of branded prescription drugs declined by 7.6 percent, while generic prescriptions rose by 5.9 percent.

Lipid lowering and monitoring drugs grew on the largest levels, according to the report, swelling 5 percent and accounting for 212 million of the drugs dispensed in 2009. These drugs ranked third for total prescription sales for the year.

Additionally, proton pump inhibitor sales totaled $13.6 billion, a 2 percent decline from last year, while antidepressant drug sales rose by 3 percent to $9.9 million, the report stated.

“The greater availability of generic options, growing differentials in co-pays between brands and generics, and efforts by patients, insurers and employers to encourage appropriate use of lower-cost alternatives were all factors in the changing mix of medicines used in patient treatment last year,” noted Murray Aitken, senior vice president, IMS.