Global pharma sales growth falls to 4.8% at US dollars 773 bn in 2008: IMSGlobal pharmaceutical industry is on the decline with its sales growth declining to 4.8 per cent in terms of constant dollar during 2008 from 6.6 per cent in the previous year according to IMS Healthcare. The growth of the sector is likely to deteriorate further to 2.5 to 3.5 per cent in the current year, IMS predicted.

However, in absolute terms the global pharmaceutical sales improved by 8.1 per cent to US$773 billion from $715 billion in the previous year.

The lower growth in pharmaceutical sales worldwide is attributed basically to global economic slowdown, patent expirations, price restrictions and slowdown in innovative product launches. The sales growth at constant dollar in US remained at 1.4 per cent only and that in Japan it was at 2.1 per cent. However, Asia, Africa and Australia markets recorded highest pharmaceutical sales growth of 15.3 per cent during 2008. Similarly, Latin America achieved double digit growth in sales of 12.6 per cent, but the growth in Europe was restricted to only at 5.8 per cent.

As per the IMS Healthcare report, North America continued to remain the largest pharmaceutical market with sales of $311.8 billion in 2008 contributing around 40.3 per cent to total sales. This was followed by Europe with sales of $247.5 billion (32.1 per cent of total market), Asia/Africa/Australia $90.8 billion (11.7 per cent), Japan $76.6 billion (9.9 per cent) and Latin America $46.5 billion (6 per cent).

Lipitor (atorvastatin) of Pfizer Inc maintained its leadership among all the brand drugs and notched up a sale of $13,655 million in 2008, as against $13,526 million in 2007. Though, the product is showing a marginal growth of one per cent, the same in constant dollar terms declined by one per cent during 2008. The first five top products viz, Lipitor ($13,655 million), Plavix ($8,634 million of Bristol Myers Squibb & sanofi-aventis), Nexium ($7,842 million of AstraZeneca), Seretide ($7,703 million of GlaxoSmithKline) and Enbrel ($5,703 million of Wyeth) maintained their rankings.

Out of top 15 products in the world, the sales of three products viz., Lipitor, Zyprexa (Eli Lilly) and Takepron (Takeda) declined during 2008 on constant dollar basis. The sales of Zyprexa declined marginally to $5,023 million from $5,024 million and that of Takepron declined to $4,321 million from $4,405 million. AstraZeneca's Seroquel product climbed one rank with sales of $5,404 million as against $4,651 million in the last year. Jhonson & Johnson's Remicade brand moved up to eighth rank with sales of $4,935 as compared to $4,233 million in the last year with tenth place among the top 15 products.

Abbott's Humira and Roche's Avastin recorded excellent growth of 39.5 per cent and 37.4 per cent respectively and their sales touched to $4,075 million and $4,016 million in 2008.

The sales related to oncology therapy remained on top compared with other therapies in the world during 2008 and sales of oncology products improved by 11.3 per cent to $48,189 million. This was followed by lipid regulators ($33,849 million), respiratory agents ($31,271 million), anti-diabetics ($27,267 million) and Acid pump inhibitors ($26,525 million).

As reported earlier, IMS Healthcare has lowered its growth rate projection for the year 2009 to 2.5 to 3.5 per cent on constant dollar basis at $750 billion from $820 billion plus announced in October 2008 on account of deterioration in the global economic environment and currency exchange fluctuations.

The IMS Healthcare report mentioned that the pharmaceutical market will rebound with the recovery in global economy. However, unprecedented level of potential patent expirations in 2011 and 2012 will curb sales growth. The global compounded annual growth rate for pharmaceutical market is forecasted at three to six per cent through 2013.