U.S. drug sales grow at slowest rate since 1995

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U.S. prescription drugs grew at their slowest rate in nearly a decade in 2004, according to a report released yesterday by IMS Health.
U.S. sales grew modestly to $235.4 billion in 2004, up just 8.3 percent from  $217.3 billion in 2003, IMS Health said. It is the first time since 1995 the industry has failed to achieve yearly double digit growth.
Key factors for the 2004 pharma industry's more modest growth included: a mild flu season; increased over-the-counter use of anti-ulcerants and antihistamines, a practice encouraged by managed care plans; continued generics competition; decreased prescription volumes due in part to increased insurance co-pays; and safety concerns with antidepressants and COX-2 inhibitors.
Cholesterol reducers continued as the top therapeutic class with Lipitor as the biggest selling drug in the U.S. for the fourth year running with sales of $7.7 billion.
Merck's Zocor was the second biggest seller with U.S. sales at $4.6 billion. Abbot's ulcer treatment Prevacid came in third, with sales of $3.8 billion.
Pfizer remained the top drug company with sales of $30.7 billion.
GlaxoSmithKline followed in second, with sales of $18.8 billion, and Johnson & Johnson was number 3, all unchanged from 2003.
Bristol-Myers Squibb fell to number nine from number 6 while biotech Amgen was at number 8, the fastest growing within the top 10.
The merger of Sanofi and Aventis brought Sanofi-Avnetis into the top 10 list at number 7, displacing Eli Lilly from the list. Wyeth was at number 10.
IMS expects seven new products to be launched this year that have the potential to generate more than $1 billion in sales including Eli Lilly's cancer drug Alimta, Pfizer's neuropathic pain drug Lyrica, Novo Nordisk's Levemir for diabetes and Sanofi-Aventis' Menactra for meningitis.
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