Stable growth in 2009 will reflect new shape of drug market, say IMS

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Market Pharmaceutical industry Pharmacology

Next year, drug revenues will grow 5 per cent to $820bn according to IMS Health, as the global downturn, patent expiry and flat-lining growth rates in mature markets all make their presence felt.

While revenue growth in Europe, the US and Japan is expected to slow to around two per cent, sales in “pharmerging markets” like China, India and Brazil will expand between 14 and 15 per cent to top $105bn.

Murray Aitken, senior vice president of healthcare insights at IMS, commented that: “In many respects, 2009 will reflect the new shape of the global pharmaceutical market,”​ adding that “growth will hold steady at 2008 levels​.”

He explained that the combined impact of “the shift in growth from developed countries to emerging ones, specialist-driven products playing a larger role, blockbusting drugs losing patent protection and the rising influence of regulators and payers,”​ would dominate the market.

In Europe, IMS predicts that increasing demand from the aging population will be more than offset by the impact of decentralised healthcare budgets and a greater focus on the efficacy of new drugs via technology assessments.

Growth of the world’s largest market, the US, is expected to fall from 3 per cent to between 1 and 2 per cent in 2009 as generic products continue to encroach on markets formerly dominated by branded drugs. IMS believes that this effect will be exacerbated by ongoing turbulence in the economic markets and the low number of new drugs slated for launch.

In Japan the picture is slightly different with generics expected to make smaller gains despite government efforts to promote their use. IMS forecast that the market will generate revenue of between $85bn and $88bn next year, up around 5 per cent on 2008, citing approvals for new anti-cancer agents and the absence of national biennial price cuts as a major factor.

Responding to changing markets is key

Despite the resolutely downbeat predictions, Aitkin stressed that are still opportunities for certain sections of the drug industry to grow if they take on board changing market conditions. He said that: “The growth is not where it used to be and it may not be as easy to come by, but it is out there​.”

Aitken gave the example of the biopharmaceutical industry as an area where expansion could still be achieved. He explained that such firms should focus on “emerging markets, specialist-driven products and biologics by uncovering pockets of unmet need and underutilisation​.”

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