PHARMACY

IMS Health forecasts growth in U.S., global pharmaceutical markets

BY Alaric DeArment

NORWALK, Conn. Strong near-term growth in the U.S. pharmaceutical market will drive growth in the global pharmaceutical market, according to a forecast by market research firm IMS Health.

In its IMS Market Prognosis report, the firm forecasted market growth of 4% to 6% on a constant dollar basis next year, exceeding $825 billion, with an expansion of up to 7% through 2013, when the total market value will expand to at least $975 billion. Growth in the United States, likely to be 3% to 5% in 2010, is expected to drive global growth.

“Overall, market growth is expected to remain at historically low levels, but stronger-than-expected demand in the U.S. is living both our short- and longer-term forecasts,” IMS SVP healthcare insight Murray Aitken said in a statement. “The economic climate will continue to be a dampening influence in most mature markets, particularly in those countries with rising budget deficits and publicly funded healthcare systems.”

Blockbuster drugs that generate $137 billion in sales a year – particularly Pfizer’s Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium), GlaxoSmithKline’s Seretide (fluticosone propionate and salmeterol xinafoate) and Plavix (clopidogrel bisulfate), by Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb – will lose patent protection over the next five years and face generic competition. At the same time, new drugs that treat diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis and multiple sclerosis are unlikely to generate the same sales as the blockbuster drugs. These two factors will combine to dampen growth prospects, according to IMS.

Still, growth prospects in the United States have improved, the report said. Pharmacy chains have more tightly managed their inventory levels based on expectations of patient demand, which has increased purchasing volatility but also created higher-than-expected sales growth in first quarter 2009. Meanwhile, papers have sought to limit price increases and boost the use of generic drugs.

“In the U.S., pricing flexibility and inventory management actions are contributing to much higher growth than anticipated earlier this year and are the main reasons for the upward adjustment to our five-year forecast,” Aitken said.

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GSK to supply more than 400 million doses of swine flu vaccine

BY Alaric DeArment

LONDON GlaxoSmithKline has contracts to supply more than 400 million doses of vaccine for the H1N1 swine flu, the British drug maker announced.

GSK said Tuesday that it had received orders for 149 million additional doses of the vaccine, bringing the total to 440 million. The company plans to ship initial supplies of the vaccine this week and into the first half of 2010.

Doses of the vaccine have been percolating into various parts of the United States over the last several days, and Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently said that Americans “must” get the vaccine. To date, the pandemic H1N1 flu has killed about 600 people in this country.

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Published reports: Violent criminals, organized crime turning to Medicare fraud

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Violent criminals, including those involved in organized crime, are turning to Medicare fraud as a way of making money, according to published reports.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that lighter sentences and easy money were leading many criminals to move from drug dealing to healthcare fraud, which can earn them $25,000 a day but a 10-year prison sentence if convicted.

Crimes have included sending Medicare fraudulent bills for drugs and medical equipment with invoices containing Social Security and Medicare numbers bought from homeless people on Los Angeles’ Skid Row. Most of the activity has occurred in Los Angeles, Miami, Detroit and Houston.

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