Pharma resilient during economic slog, says IMS Health

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The global market for pharmaceuticals is expected to grow by 4%-6% in 2010 – exceeding $825 billion – due in part to near-term growth in the US, according to an IMS Health forecast.

The forecast also predicts a 4%-7% growth over the next five years – a 1% increase from IMS Health's prior forecast. The total pharmaceutical market is expected to reach $975 billion or more by 2013.

Murray Aitken, SVP, healthcare insight, IMS, said the outlook reflects “a greater resilience to economic slowdown [in the US],” as well as growth in emerging markets, like China. Other factors, including the $137 billion lost to patent expiries (Lipitor, Plavix and Seretide, for example) over the next five years, will still be a challenge. “We do see a half-dozen potential blockbusters this year, and a similar number next year, but it terms of new growth, that's not enough to offset the losses,” said Aitken. “We're not counting on any mega-blockbusters.”

Another wrinkle in the forecast deals with pharmacy chain inventories. During the second half of 2008, many chain pharmacies began to stock down inventory, in anticipation of lowered consumer demand. Although demand has remained at a low level among consumers, it hasn't dipped as much as expected. In 2009, chain pharmacies were seen to stock up on inventory, which increases revenues. Aitken qualified this observation, calling it “a one-time boost…relative to earlier [negative] expectations."   

While economic conditions are affecting some emerging markets – particularly Russia, Turkey, South Korea and Mexico – the seven countries with emerging markets in the forecast are expected to grow, in aggregate, by 12%-14% in 2010, and 13%-16% in the next five years. China's pharmaceutical market is expected to grow by 20% or more, annually, and will contribute 21% of the overall global growth through 2013, according to the forecast.
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