U.S. prescription-drug sales grew in 2004 at their slowest rate in nine years, according to a study released yesterday.
Why? A mild flu season, greater use of over-the-counter drugs, higher consumer co-payments and safety concerns about antidepressants and the painkillers known as Cox-2 inhibitors combined to hold down sales.
Total U.S. prescription-drug sales reached $235.4 billion in 2004, up 8.3 percent from $217.3 billion in 2003, according to IMS Health, a drug-industry research firm in Fairfield, Conn. It was the first one-year spending increase since 1995 that was under 10 percent.
"The industry delivered solid performance overall, despite significant business pressures in areas such as drug safety, pricing and generics competition," said Bruce Boggs, the president of IMS Americas, which has major local operations in Blue Bell and Plymouth Meeting.
Seven products with the potential for blockbuster sales - more than $1 billion worldwide - are expected to keep industry profits strong in 2005, the report said. They are: Eli Lilly & Co.'s Alimta for lung cancer; Pfizer Inc.'s Lyrica for neuropathic pain; Novo Nordisk AS's Levemir for diabetes; GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C.'s Ariflo for asthma; Sanofi-Aventis' Menactra for meningitis; Genentech/OSI's Tarceva for lung cancer; and Roche/GlaxoSmithKline's Boniva for osteoporosis.
plans helped fuel the 2004 slowdown in prescription-drug spending by encouraging
the use of over-the-counter antiulcer acid-reflux drugs and antihistamines.
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