US bio/pharma market reaches $307.4B in 2010, up a slim 2.3%, says IMS Health

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - March/April 2011

Generics claim 78% of market; prescriptions dispensed up slightly, but doctor visits decline

As compared to 5.1% growth in 2008-9, the US market grew by only 2.3% in 2010, according to the annual compilation now published by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics (Parsippany, NJ). A growth rate of around 5% or less has been the pattern for bio/pharma since 2007, handicapped by the relative lack of new blockbusters, price pressure from payers and, most recently, the economic decline that starting correcting in early 2010.

“Fewer patients visited physician offices and initiated new chronic therapy treatments last year, likely the result of the slower economy,” says Michael Kleinrock, research director at the IMS Institute. “It became apparent in 2010 that the healthcare landscape is shifting in significant ways. Physicians and patients have more therapy options than ever, and yet spending on medicines is rising at historic lows.”

The IMS Institute found that prescription volume was up very slightly (1.1%, to 3.995 billion), but the volume of doctor visits has been declining slowly, falling by 4.2% since mid-2009. Other notable drug-spending statistics: Medicare Part D now represents 21.8% of overall drug reimbursement, while commercial third-party insurance declined to 62.9%. The percentage of all prescriptions filled by generics rose to 78%.

New or protected brands

To isolate the pattern of existing, branded product pricing, IMS Institute defines “protected brands” as those still under patent, but more than two years on the market. That category saw increased spending of $16.6B in 2010, but some of that was offset by an estimated $4.5B in discounting and rebates. “New” brands—on the market for two years or less—declined to $4.0B in absolute value, and the number of products in this group totaled 69 in 2010, down from 96 in 2006. Average spending per new branded drug declined too, from $114M to $62M during that span, “reflecting a shift in the mix of new products toward orphan drugs” among other factors.

The star protected-brand product in IMS Institute’s data is Crestor, which rose from well down the list of top brands in 2007 to No. 8 in 2010, with sales of $3.8B. At the same time, its competitor, Pfizer’s Lipitor, remains the No. 1 brand overall, but spending declined, again, to $7.2B—and this year the product goes off-patent.

The full report is available at the IMS Institute website.

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