Weak economic climate adds to gloomy global pharma outlook

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IMS Health is lowering its forecast for 2009 by two percentage points – compared to the forecast that they issued in October 2008. 

“That means that we expect the global market this year will grow by 2.5%-3.5 % on a constant-dollar basis,” said Murray Aitken, senior vice president of healthcare insight, IMS Health. 

Among the factors contributing to the negative 2009 forecast is the impact of the deteriorating macro economies around the world. “We've completed some modeling on the correlations between macro economic factors and the pharma market and our adjustment to our forecast is consistent with our understanding of the level of impact that slower GDP growth, lower levels of consumer expenditure and government expenditure can have on the pharma marketplace,” Aitkens told reporters during a teleconference.

Results from the IMS Market Prognosis predicts global pharmaceutical sales exceeding $750 billion for the year, down from the $820 billion that was forecast in October 2008, reflecting both the lower growth rate and currency exchange fluctuations.

Aitken said that in addition to patent expirations, a slowdown in innovative product launches and hurdles imposed by payers on market access and acceptance, the industry can now overlay economic downturn as a contributing factor.

Aitken noted that there is a clear correlation between demand for medicines and key macroeconomic variables such as gross domestic product, consumer spending and government expenditures.

The US pharmaceutical market is expected to contract in 2009, said Aitken. Pharmaceutical sales in the US will decline by 1%-2% in 2009, an all-time low. “And when we look out over the five-year horizon we expect a compound annual growth rate that's essentially flat,” said Aitken.   

Aitken said that the seven “pharmerging” markets will continue to grow well in into the double-digits and IMS is forecasting 13% to 16% growth through 2013. “And this will continue the change to what might be called a new world order where these seven markets will contribute 40%-50% of the global expansion of the pharma market over that five-year period,” he said. 

It will mean that China, the sixth-largest pharma market will become the third largest by 2011behind the US and Japan. In addition to China, countries included in “pharmerging” markets include: India, Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and Russia.

IMS data reveals that mature markets will contribute lower growth and that among the developed markets of Japan, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Spain and Canada, their compound annual growth rate over the next five years will be 1%-4%.         

Aitken said that IMS is tracking about 50-60 new chemical or biologic products that would be launched over the next two years. “That‘s a similar level to the number of products that would head into the market over each of the last two years as well.” Aitken pointed out that what's notable, is that the majority of these products are specialist-driven and many of them are aimed at niche indications and narrow patient populations.

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