PharmExec Blog

Global Market for Medicines: Regional Balance in Growth Continues to Shift, While Pipelines Begin to Show Some Promise

The predicted five percent to seven percent growth of the global pharma industry surpasses the four to five percent pace of increase from 2010.

According to a forecast released last week by IMS Health, the value of the global pharmaceutical market is expected to grow five percent to seven percent next year, reaching $880 billion.

The IMS forecast takes into account macroeconomic conditions, changing levels of patient access, availability of drug treatment options, and pricing factors.

As countries recover from the global economic crisis at different rates, there is growing divergence in the pace of pharmaceutical growth among major markets, says the report. The 17 pharmerging countries are forecast to grow at a 15 percent to 17 percent rate in 2011, to $170-180 billion. Many of these markets are benefiting from greater government spending on healthcare and broader public and private healthcare funding, which is driving greater demand and access to medicines. China, which is predicted to grow 25 percent to 27 percent to more than $50 billion next year, is now the world’s third-largest pharmaceutical market.

Among major developed countries, Japan is forecast to grow 5 percent to 7 percent in 2011. The five major European markets (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the U.K.) collectively will grow at a 1 percent to 3 percent pace, as will Canada.

The US will remain the single largest pharmaceutical market, with 3 percent to 5 percent growth expected next year. Pharmaceutical sales in the US will reach $320- $330 billion, up from $310 billion forecast for this year, not including the impact of off-invoice discounts or rebates.

The survey also predicts that as many patents reach expiration, generic drugs will dominate the landscape. In 2011, products with sales of more than $30 billion are expected to face the prospect of generic competition in the major developed markets. In the US, Lipitor, Plavix, Zyprexa, and Levaquin—which together accounted for more than 93 million prescriptions dispensed in the past 12 months and generated over $17 billion in total sales—likely will lose market exclusivity. The full impact of patients shifting to lower-cost generic alternatives for these products, says the report, mostly will be felt in 2012.

However, as some drugs disappear in their branded forms, the introduction and uptake of new drugs—a third of which are specialty pharmaceutical products—are poised to fulfill patients’ unmet needs and significantly alter treatment paradigms in several key therapy areas. These include innovative treatment options for stroke prevention, melanoma, multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, and hepatitis C. As these new drugs are brought to market, patient access is expected to expand and funding redirected from other areas where lower-cost generics are available. According to the report, five potential blockbuster products—defined as those exceeding $1 billion annually in peak sales—are expected to be approved and launched globally by the end of next year.

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