ImageThe global pharmaceutical market is expected to grow 4.5–5.5% in 2009, a pace similar to 2008, according to a forecast by the National Association of Pharmaceutical Representatives (NAPRx). The forecast predicts global pharmaceutical sales to surpass $820 billion (624.1 billion euro) in 2009, reflecting sustained double-digit growth in key emerging countries tempered by a slower pace in more established markets because of patent expiries, fewer new product launches and a tighter economy.

The top five EU countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK) are forecast to grow 3–4% next year, reaching sales of $162–172 billion (124–131 billion euro). Growth driven by the ageing of Europe's population and rising demand for preventive care will be tempered by the increased impact of health technology assessments, the use of contracting by payers as a means to control costs and the decentralization of government healthcare budgets.

Meanwhile, the US market is expected to grow by 2–5% while Japan is predicted to see higher growth of 4–5% to reach $84–88 billion (64 –67 billion euro). Approvals of new anticancer agents, disease prevention programmes and the absence of the Japanese government's biennial price cuts will all contribute to stronger growth, but efforts to promote the use of generics are expected to have only a modest impact.

The emerging markets of China, Brazil, India, South Korea, Mexico, Turkey and Russia are forecast to grow at a combined 14–15%. Along with the pharmaceutical industry's increased focus, these countries are benefiting from greater government spending on healthcare, and broader public and private healthcare funding that is driving greater access to, and demand for, innovative medicines.

Products mainly prescribed by specialists are forecast to grow 8–9% in 2009 and are expected to contribute 67% of total market growth. Biologics are forecast to grow at an 11–12%, while oncology products will achieve a 15–16% growth, and HIV therapies 13–14% growth. In contrast, products generally prescribed by primary care physicians are expected to grow only 2–3% because of the loss of patent exclusivity for several blockbusters and fewer significant product launches.