Global pharma market growth plateaus; U.S. market slows to measly 1.5%

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The global pharmaceutical market is expected to grow 4.5 to 5.5 percent next year, a pace similar to 2008, according to a report from IMS Health.

The report, an annual industry forecast of market dynamics and therapy performance, predicted global pharmaceutical sales to surpass $820 billion in 2009, reflecting sustained double-digit growth in emerging countries tempered by a slower pace in more established markets. This includes the U.S., where growth is expected to be in the 1 to 2 percent range for both 2008 and 2009.

“In many respects, 2009 will reflect the new shape of the global pharmaceutical market, the result of market factors that have gained momentum over the past several years,” said Murray Aitken, senior vice president of healthcare insight at IMS. “Pharmaceutical growth next year will hold steady at 2008 levels. The market will continue to contend with a number of forces – among them, the shift in growth from developed countries to emerging ones, specialist-driven products playing a larger role, blockbuster drugs losing patent protection, and the rising influence of regulators and payers on healthcare decisions. Layered on top is the uncertainty in the global economic environment and its effect on demand.”

In its 2009 forecast, IMS identified slowing growth in mature markets. This year, the U.S. pharmaceutical market—the largest single market—is forecasted to grow 1 to 2 percent, reaching $287 to $297 billion, which is down from the 2 to 3 percent rate expected earlier this year. Contributing to the slower growth is less-than-expected demand for recently introduced products, as well as the economic climate, which appears to be having an impact on doctor visits and pharmaceutical sales.

In 2009, the expected 1 to 2 percent growth rate in the U.S. will result in sales of $292 to $302 billion, and reflects the impact of continuing patent expirations, fewer new product launches and a tighter economy. The top five E.U. countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) are forecast to grow 3 to 4 percent next year, reaching sales of $162 to $172 billion.

According to IMS, the “pharmerging” markets of China, Brazil, India, South Korea, Mexico, Turkey and Russia are forecast to grow at a combined 14 to 15 percent pace to $105 to $115 billion. The report also found that new product approvals remain at historically low levels, with only 25 to 30 new chemical entities slated for launch in 2009. In addition, many of these are specialist-driven and niche products with relatively limited market potential.