Global Pharmaceutical Sales Expected to Rise to $880 Billion in 2011

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Global Pharmaceutical Sales Expected to Rise to $880 Billion in 2011Global pharmaceutical sales are expected to grow by 5% to 7% in 2011 to around $880 billion, compared with a rise of 4% to 5% this year, thanks to robust growth in emerging markets, especially China, as well as new innovative treatments, according to IMS Health. The headwinds pushing back against that growth include budget pressures in the developed world and patent expirations.

"While the overall market will appear to rebound somewhat in 2011, the underlying constraints to growth in developed markets are stronger than ever -- including the impact of major patent expiries and payer mechanisms to limit drug spending," said senior vice president Murray Aitken at IMS, which tracks global prescription drug sales for the industry.

Robust Growth in the 'Pharmerging' Markets

The 17 so-called "pharmerging countries," which include such nations as Brazil, Russia, India, Venezuela, Poland and the Ukraine, are forecast to see their pharmaceutical spending grow at a 15% to 17% rate in 2011, to between $170 billion and $180 billion overall. Especially impressive is the rise in what is now the world's third-largest pharmaceutical market: China. Spending there is predicted to grow by 25% to 27% to more than $50 billion next year.

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By contrast, Canada and the five major European markets are expected to grow at a measly 1% to 3% pace, while spending in Japan is forecast to grow by 5% to 7%. The U.S., where spending is forecast to grow at a 3% to 5% pace, will remain the single largest pharmaceutical market, with sales of between $320 billion and $330 billion, up from $310 billion forecast for this year.

This divergence in sales growth isn't surprising when considering that pharmerging markets are benefiting from greater government spending on health care, and broader public and private funding, as IMS Health said. In the developed markets, on the other hand, pharmaceuticals face price pressures from patent expiries, as well as from spending constraints imposed by both government and private payers.

Patent Cliff Shifts Gears in 2011

The much-dreaded patent cliff will grow steeper in 2011 as a growing number of major drugs lose patent protection and their manufacturers are forced to compete with cheaper generics. The full impact, however, will mostly be felt in 2012, due to the timing and competition among generics.

Products with sales of more than $30 billion are expected to go out of patent in the major developed markets. In the U.S. alone, two huge cholesterol treatments are set to lose market protection: Lipitor from Pfizer (PFE) and Plavix from Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) and Sanofi-Aventis (SNY). Eli Lilly's (LLY) antipsychotic Zyprexa and Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) anti-bacterial drug Levaquin are also set to face generic competition. Together, the four accounted for more than 93 million prescriptions dispensed in the past 12 months and generated over $17 billion in total sales.

But pharmaceutical firms are also poised to introduce new drugs next year, and funding is expected to be redirected to the new treatments from other areas where lower-cost generics are available. "In 2011, we will see the loss of exclusivity for some iconic brands and a promising new wave of innovation," said Aitken. The new products "are poised to fulfill patients' unmet needs and significantly alter treatment paradigms in several key therapy areas" such as stroke prevention, melanoma, multiple sclerosis, breast cancer and hepatitis C.

A third of the new drugs arriving in 2011 are expected to be specialty pharmaceutical products, and five of them are expected to become blockbusters with at least $1 billion in annual peak sales. These could include AstraZeneca's (AZN) heart drug Brilinta and Vertex's (VRTX) hepatitis C treatment telaprevir.
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