Pharma growth drops to 1961 levels

IMS Health is out with its new annual pharma sales report, and it ain't pretty. Revenue grew by only 3.8 percent to $286.5 billion, the slowest pace of expansion since 1961. By contrast, sales expanded by 6 percent in 2006. Total prescription volume rose only by 2.8 percent, compares with 4.6 percent the previous year.

A few bright spots buried within those overall numbers, though. Cancer meds grew by 14 percent. Biotech product sales expanded by 9 percent, and specialist-driven therapies by 10 percent. The offsetting dark spots? Try a 15.4 percent drop in year-over-year cholesterol-med sales.

IMS cited a few reasons for the slowing growth, including--of course--increasing competition from generics; $17 billion worth of branded drugs lost exclusivity in 2007. Plus, new meds only represented $441 million worth of sales last year because of fewer product launches and slower adoption of the new products. And then there were the safety issues: Black Box warnings, withdrawals, and the like. IMS estimates that safety concerns cut into sales of products that account for 10 percent of the market.

- check out the press release from IMS
- read the CNN Money story
- check out the analysis and charts at Pharmalot

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