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IMS study finds decline in prescription drug market growth


Overall sales growth in the prescription drug market increased by only 3.8 percent in 2007, a big decrease compared with growth of more than 8 percent in 2006, according to IMS Health. The main reasons for the slower sales growth were loss of exclusivity of branded medicines, fewer new product approvals, the levelling of year-over-year growth from the Medicare Part D program and the impact of safety issues. Overall, total sales in the U.S. prescription market reached $286.5 billion.

Not only did sales of drugs decrease, but the total volume of U.S. dispensed prescriptions grew at a rate of just 2.8 percent compared with 4.6 percent in 2006. Antidepressants ranked as the leading therapy class by dispensed prescription volume in 2007. Rounding out the top five therapeutic categories were lipid regulators, codeine and combination pain medications, ace inhibitors and beta blockers.

Lipid regulators continued to be the largest therapy class in the United States, despite a 15.4 percent year-over-year sales decline, with prescription sales of $18.4 billion. Proton-pump inhibitors ranked second, with prescription sales of $14.1 billion and growth of 2.8 percent. Antipsychotics replaced antidepressants as the third-largest therapeutic class in 2007, with prescription sales growth of 12.1 percent to $13.1 billion.

2007 Top therapeutic classes by U.S. salesSource: IMS
RankTherapeutic class2007 total $ (billions)2006 total $ (billions)2005 total $ (billions)2004 total $ (billions)2003 total $ (billions)
1Lipid regulators18.421.719.818.115.4
2Proton pump inhibitors14.113.713.012.813.0
5Seizure disorders10.
7Antineo monoclonal antibiotics6.
8Angiotensin II antagonists6.
9Anti-arthritis biological response MOD5.

“In 2007, the U.S. pharmaceutical market experienced its lowest growth rate since 1961,” said IMS’ Murray Aitken, senior vice president, healthcare insight. “The moderating growth trend that began in 2001 resumed last year, following the one-time impact on market growth in 2006 from the implementation of Medicare Part D. Last year, we saw a continuing shift away from primary care classes to biotech and specialist-driven therapies, which grew at a 9 percent and 10 percent pace, respectively. Among the leading therapy classes, oncology drugs continued their rapid growth, at 14 percent—the result of innovative new medicines, expanded indications and accelerated uptake of products to fill unmet needs.”

2007 Top therapeutic classes by U.S. sales
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RankTherapeutic class2007 total scripts (millions)2006 total scripts (millions)2005 total scripts (millions)2004 total scripts (millions)2003 total scripts (millions)
2Lipid regulators220.9203.1180.2164.0143.7
3Codeine and comb.186.1177.2166.0158.0150.1
4Ace inhibitors157.9154.2144.1139.9133.6
5Beta blockers132.5130.5123.0117.4109.5
6Protein pump inhibitors108.4101.792.390.892.7
7Seizure disorders101.894.986.582.977.0
8Thyroid hormone, synthetic101.497.792.787.982.9
9Calcium blockers87.487.084.684.284.4