Record-low year for pharma growth, IMS says

IMS Health already told us 2009 wasn't to be a bang-up year for pharma. Now, those prophets of doom say it's going to be even worse than they previously thought. Because of the flagging economy, the industry will grow by no more than 3.5 percent worldwide, IMS predicts, to end the year with some $750 billion in global revenues. That's the dinkiest increase in 25 years.

Previous estimates? Growth of 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent globally, with worldwide sales of $820 billion. Not so hot, mind you, and it seemed rather gloomy at the time. Little did we know.

In the U.S., the picture isn't any prettier. Sales are projected to fall by up to 2 percent for the year, with growth remaining a distant memory for the next five years. That's a record-breaking forecast: IMS says it's never predicted shrinking prescription-drug sales in the 52 years it's served as the industry's numbers guru.

"There is a clear correlation between demand for medicines and key macroeconomic variables such as GDP, consumer spending and government expenditures," the firm's Murray Aiken said in a statement. "We see the worldwide financial crisis contributing to record-low sales growth this year." Thanks, we needed that.

- read the IMS Health press release
- check out the Philadelphia Inquirer story