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IMS study finds decline in prescription drug market growth

BY Drew Buono

Overall sales growth in the prescription drug market increased by only 3.8 percent in 2007, a big decrease compared with growth of more than 8 percent in 2006, according to IMS Health. The main reasons for the slower sales growth were loss of exclusivity of branded medicines, fewer new product approvals, the levelling of year-over-year growth from the Medicare Part D program and the impact of safety issues. Overall, total sales in the U.S. prescription market reached $286.5 billion.

Not only did sales of drugs decrease, but the total volume of U.S. dispensed prescriptions grew at a rate of just 2.8 percent compared with 4.6 percent in 2006. Antidepressants ranked as the leading therapy class by dispensed prescription volume in 2007. Rounding out the top five therapeutic categories were lipid regulators, codeine and combination pain medications, ace inhibitors and beta blockers.

Lipid regulators continued to be the largest therapy class in the United States, despite a 15.4 percent year-over-year sales decline, with prescription sales of $18.4 billion. Proton-pump inhibitors ranked second, with prescription sales of $14.1 billion and growth of 2.8 percent. Antipsychotics replaced antidepressants as the third-largest therapeutic class in 2007, with prescription sales growth of 12.1 percent to $13.1 billion.

2007 Top therapeutic classes by U.S. sales

Source: IMS
Rank Therapeutic class 2007 total $ (billions) 2006 total $ (billions) 2005 total $ (billions) 2004 total $ (billions) 2003 total $ (billions)
1 Lipid regulators 18.4 21.7 19.8 18.1 15.4
2 Proton pump inhibitors 14.1 13.7 13.0 12.8 13.0
3 Antipsychotics 13.1 11.7 10.5 9.6 8.4
4 Antidepressants 11.9 13.6 12.9 13.9 13.8
5 Seizure disorders 10.2 8.9 8.0 8.5 7.0
6 Erythroproteins 8.6 10.1 8.7 8.2 7.5
7 Antineo monoclonal antibiotics 6.8 5.8 4.0 2.6 1.8
8 Angiotensin II antagonists 6.6 5.8 5.1 4.5 3.5
9 Anti-arthritis biological response MOD 5.3 4.4 3.7 2.6 1.7
10 Bisphosphonates 4.6 4.3 4.0 3.7 3.2
All 286.5 276.1 253.9 239.9 219.6

“In 2007, the U.S. pharmaceutical market experienced its lowest growth rate since 1961,” said IMS’ Murray Aitken, senior vice president, healthcare insight. “The moderating growth trend that began in 2001 resumed last year, following the one-time impact on market growth in 2006 from the implementation of Medicare Part D. Last year, we saw a continuing shift away from primary care classes to biotech and specialist-driven therapies, which grew at a 9 percent and 10 percent pace, respectively. Among the leading therapy classes, oncology drugs continued their rapid growth, at 14 percent—the result of innovative new medicines, expanded indications and accelerated uptake of products to fill unmet needs.”

2007 Top therapeutic classes by U.S. sales

Source: IMS Health
Rank Therapeutic class 2007 total scripts (millions) 2006 total scripts (millions) 2005 total scripts (millions) 2004 total scripts (millions) 2003 total scripts (millions)
1 Antidepressants 232.7 227.4 216.0 215.8 207.6
2 Lipid regulators 220.9 203.1 180.2 164.0 143.7
3 Codeine and comb. 186.1 177.2 166.0 158.0 150.1
4 Ace inhibitors 157.9 154.2 144.1 139.9 133.6
5 Beta blockers 132.5 130.5 123.0 117.4 109.5
6 Protein pump inhibitors 108.4 101.7 92.3 90.8 92.7
7 Seizure disorders 101.8 94.9 86.5 82.9 77.0
8 Thyroid hormone, synthetic 101.4 97.7 92.7 87.9 82.9
9 Calcium blockers 87.4 87.0 84.6 84.2 84.4
10 Benzodiazephines 82.9 80.2 76.7 75.0 72.1
All 3,809.3 3,706.4 3,545.1 3,435.1 3,361.2

IMS Health’s recently released annual U.S. Pharmaceutical Market Performance Review, also provided some insight into likely developments later in the year.

In 2008, the expected introduction of novel biologics and vaccines, as well as the launch of five to eight products with potential global blockbuster status, such as Roche’s rheumatoid arthritis drug Actemra and its anemia drug Mircera, will help offset the impact of lower generics pricing. An additional $13 billion in branded products are likely to be exposed to generics this year including Wyeth’s depression drug Effexor and the seizure and bipolar medications Lamictal by GlaxoSmithKline and Depakote from Abbott.

Looking further ahead, IMS forecasts annual pharmaceutical sales growth of 3 percent to 6 percent through 2012.

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JPMA refutes media reports about dangers of baby bottle materials

BY Jenna Duncan

MT. LAUREL, N.J. The media has been asked by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association to halt stories with claims of purported negative health effects from using baby products containing bisphenol A (BPA). JPMA claims that statements of ill health linked to items containing BPA are often misleading and frighten consumers.

According to JPMA, research has shown that when used properly, products made with BPA do not pose a health threat.

Robert Waller, Jr., the president of JPMA, said, “JPMA is extremely disappointed in the media for speculating that Health Canada’s assessment of BPA would recommend labeling the chemical a dangerous substance, when in fact the report has not even been issued yet.”

Claims in the media have stated that risk may come from the plastic shields on pacifiers, parts of baby bottles or sippy cups being broken down or chewed, and then ingested with food or saliva. Scientific findings indicate that BPA may cause estrogenic effects in laboratory animals, and so concerns about the safety of baby products, especially bottles, has been under scrutiny.

JPMA, whose mission is to educate consumers and industry professionals about juvenile products and safety, is referring consumers to its Web site, www.babybottles.org, for more information on BPA and related health findings.

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American Greetings reports fiscal 2008 profit

BY Doug Desjardins

CLEVELAND American Greetings generated $83.3 million in earnings for fiscal 2008, including $15.6 million in the fourth quarter ended Feb. 29, and more than $1.77 billion in total sales for year. Total sales were down about 1 percent from $1.79 billion the previous year, but earnings were up 96 percent from $42.4 million.

“I’m pleased we were able to achieve earnings within our forecasted range and exceed our cash flow guidance,” said American Greetings chief executive officer Zev Weiss. “Our strong cash flow allowed us to make two acquisitions in the digital photo space and repurchase shares.”

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