Drug sales eke out 1.3% growth in 2008

The cold, hard statistics are in: Prescription drug sales grew by an anemic 1.3 percent in 2008 to $291 billion, according to research from IMS Health.

It's not a huge surprise, of course, if you follow the pharma business. Brand-name drugs are falling off patent at an increasing pace, and few top-selling meds are in line to take their places. Plus, payers are pressuring patients and other buyers to use lower-cost generics rather than pricier name brands. Not to mention the fact that the economy isn't exactly healthy at the moment.

Sales growth has been on the decline for years. The 1.3 percent growth in 2008 was down from a 3.8 percent rise in 2007, which clocked $286.5 billion in sales. In 2006, sales grew by 8 percent.

Which meds managed the biggest increases in 2008? Antipsychotic drugs grew most, trailed by cholesterol meds and GERD drugs.

- read the Associated Press coverage
- check out the post at the Health Blog