As generics gain, slower growth forecast for 2008

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Global pharmaceutical sales will slow in 2008, growing 5%-6% compared to 6%-7% in 2007, as the recent wave of patent expirations continues, according to an IMS Health forecast.

Drugs with annual sales collectively totalling $20 billion face patent expiration in 2008, including Risperdal, Fosamax, Topamax, Lamictal and Depakote, driving the growth of generics by 14%-15% to more than $70 billion, according to IMS Health's 2008 Global Pharmaceutical Market and Therapy Forecast. Generic prescriptions will account for more than two-thirds of prescriptions written in the US, while government initiatives and the introduction of biogenerics will fuel a decline in market growth among the top European markets.

As a result, the growth contribution from the US and the top five European markets will slow to 4-5% -- a historic low for the US -- while the Japanese market will grow only 1%-2%. In addition to genericization, a leveling off of growth due to the Medicare prescription drug benefit and increased pressure from payors will drive the decline in the US, the report said. In addition, IMS forecasts erosion of the $370 billion-$380 billion audited market for primary care-driven drugs – the first ever. Drug treatment costs will decline in categories slated for patent expirations on big products, including lipid regulators, calcium channel blockers, SSRIs, osteoporosis therapies and proton pump inhibitors. The decline will be particularly sharp in the US, where treatment costs per day have already declined 20%-40% this year in therapeutic categories impacted by the loss of exclusivity for Norvasc, Zoloft and Zocor. Generic competitors to Fosamax and Protonix coming online in 2008 will prompt 10%-25% reductions in treatment costs for the osteoporosis and PPI therapies.

While growth among primary care products and in the largest markets sputters, the report predicts strong growth among specialty products and in seven countries IMS has dubbed “pharmerging markets.” China, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, India, Turkey and Russia will grow 12%-13% next year, to $85 billion-$95 billion, as primary care improves and expands into rural areas and private insurance becomes more widely held, shifting the focus of treatment away from infectious diseases and towards cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses. Meanwhile, up to 29 innovative new therapies will be launched – 80% of which will be primarily prescribed by specialists.

Oncology, in particular, will see a bonanza, with four new drugs for treating melanoma, prostate cancer and acute myeloid leukemia. The category's value is projected to exceed $45 billion, contributing nearly 17% of audited market growth, according to the report.
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