A slightly healthier forecast for global pharmaceutical sales in 2010

The global pharmaceutical market is set to grow 4 percent to 6 percent next year, exceeding $825 billion, market intelligence and research company IMS Health (RX) said on Oct 7. This is higher thanprevious IMS estimates by one percentage point. Through 2013, the researcher predicts worldwide pharmaceutical sales will grow at a 4 percent to 7 percent compound annual growth rate and reach a market value of more than $975 billion in that year.

Is this prediction too optimistic? After all, industry observers are buzzing about the "patent cliff" in 2012-2013, when so many blockbuster drugs are due to lose patent protection and face increased competition from generic drugs. Worse, Big Pharma's new-drug pipeline has been less than stellar, with very few promising blockbuster drugs on the way to replace the lost big sellers.