IMS Health Reports U.S. Prescription Sales Grew 5.1 Percent in 2009, to $300.3 Billion

IMS Health Reports U.S. Prescription Sales Grew 5.1 Percent in 2009, to $300.3 Billion

NORWALK, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--IMS Health today reported 5.1 percent growth in 2009 U.S. sales of ethical pharmaceuticals and insulins through retail and non-retail channels, reaching $300.3 billion, compared with growth of 1.8 percent in 2008.

"In 2009, demand for pharmaceuticals proved stronger than in the prior two years, yet remained at historically low levels," said IMS's Murray Aitken, senior vice president, Healthcare Insight. "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. Access for the first time to lower-cost generic treatment options in the areas of epilepsy, migraine, and immune system disorders had a more moderate impact on market growth than generic launches in previous years. 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."

Factors contributing to the U.S. market's growth in 2009 include:

  • Stronger demand for prescription drugs despite macroeconomic conditions. Dispensed prescription volume in retail channels grew at a 2.1 percent pace, to 3.9 billion dispensed prescriptions, up from 1.0 percent growth in 2008. Although the volume of new therapy starts in 17 major chronic disease areas declined by about 1 percent, the volume of add-on therapy starts, switches and refills rose by nearly 2 percent last year;
  • Sustained pricing practices by pharmaceutical manufacturers, competing on the basis of clinical evidence and value;
  • Inventory management actions taken by retail pharmacies at the beginning of 2009 to bring stocking levels in line with market demand;
  • Greater use of specialty pharmaceuticals - a class of medications used to treat complex, chronic conditions - that now comprise 21 percent of U.S. market value and grew 7.5 percent last year; and
  • The lower impact of patent expiries, as well as no significant product safety issues occurring during the year.

IMS identified the following key trends among the major therapy areas:

  • Antipsychotics remained the top-selling class of medications in the U.S., with 2009 prescription sales of $14.6 billion, equal to the 2008 level.
  • Lipid regulators continued as the largest therapy class in the U.S. by dispensed prescription volume, growing at a 5 percent pace to 212 million prescriptions dispensed in 2009. Sales of lipid regulators declined 10 percent last year to $13.1 billion, reflecting an ongoing shift toward lower-cost generic alternatives. Lipid regulators ranked #3 in overall sales in 2009.
  • Proton pump inhibitors replaced lipid regulators as the second-largest therapeutic class in sales last year. Proton pump inhibitors sales totaled $13.6 billion, a 2 percent decline year over year, while dispensed prescription volume for this therapeutic class rose 5 percent.
    Antidepressants became the fourth-largest class in 2009, up from its #5 ranking the prior year, with U.S. prescription sales growth of 3 percent to $9.9 billion.
  • Sales of antineoplastic monoclonal antibodies, a leading oncology class that includes Avastin®, Rituxan® and Herceptin®, grew at a 9 percent pace in 2009 and ranked #6 in therapeutic class sales.
  • In its latest analysis, IMS also reported that use of generic products, including branded generics, continued to rise last year and now represent 75 percent of all dispensed prescriptions in the U.S., up from 57 percent in 2004. The total number of generic prescriptions dispensed increased 5.9 percent in 2009, while the number of branded prescriptions dispensed declined 7.6 percent.

Said Aitken, "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."

For more information about the U.S. pharmaceutical market and the top therapeutic classes, products and sales distribution channels, go to

Prescription product sales for ethical pharmaceuticals and human insulins are measured at wholesale prices for retail and non-retail channels and derived from IMS National Sales PerspectivesTM. Current pricing practices include the use of off-invoice discounts and rebates, which are not reflected in IMS's reported data, and are understood to be increasing. Dispensed prescription volumes for retail channels, mail order and long-term care are derived from IMS National Prescription AuditTM. IMS routinely updates its market audits, which can and does result in changes to previously reported market size and growth rates. This analysis excludes OTC medications. Details and insights related to specialty pharmaceuticals, managed markets and pharmacotherapies are derived from IMS Specialty Market DynamicsTM, IMS PlanTrakTM, IMS PlanTrak Co-payTM, and LifeLinkTM anonymized patient-centric data.

About IMS

Operating in more than 100 countries, IMS Health is the world's leading provider of market intelligence to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. With more than 55 years of industry experience, IMS Health offers leading-edge market intelligence products and services that are integral to clients' day-to-day operations, including product and portfolio management capabilities; commercial effectiveness innovations; managed care and consumer health offerings; and consulting and services solutions that improve productivity and the delivery of quality healthcare worldwide. Additional information is available at