New drug-spending leader: Diabetes

New data on pharma sales details some big shifts in spending. Diabetes meds have displaced cholesterol drugs as the leading drivers of spending growth, for one thing; generic competition is reining in cholesterol costs even as usage of the meds is increasing. Meanwhile, there's been growth in overall diabetes-drug use, and a shift toward pricier treatments, boosting 2007 spending by 12 percent. Overall drug spending grew by only 2 percent last year as patients used more generics.

Plus, safety concerns affected spending on antidepressants, hormone replacement therapy, and anemia drugs, Medco Health Solutions reports. Safety warnings on Procrit, Epogen, and Aranesp depressed sales by 15 percent, while hormone replacement therapy usage dropped by 9.2 percent. Suicide-risk warnings (and generic competition) hampered growth in the antidepressant market.

A separate report from IMS Health showed that the global market for cancer meds is advancing by leaps and bounds, twice as fast as the growth in all other pharmaceuticals. As emerging countries spend more on healthcare, they're investing more in cancer treatments; they're expected to power up spending on these meds by 12 to 15 percent a year through 2012. The overall global drug market, by contrast, is expected to grow by 6.4 percent.

- find the news at the Wall Street Journal Health Blog
- see the Pharmalot item
- check out the story from the Associated Press
- read the article at CNN Money