Antidepressant market gets boost

September 1, 1997

Pharmaceutical Representative

The global antidepressant market is the largest and fastest-growing segment of the central nervous system market, according to a new report released by Datamonitor, New York.

The global antidepressant market is the largest and fastest-growing segment of the central nervous system market, according to a new report released by Datamonitor, New York.

Driven by increased use of selective serotonin re-take inhibitors, the antidepressant market grew more than 50% between 1994 and 1996. Datamonitor attributes this upsurge to greater awareness of depression and to the emergence of effective selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors.

SSRIs have been heavily promoted since Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly launched Prozac in 1985. As a result, physician and patient awareness of depression has improved, and physicians have taken a pharmacological approach to even mild cases of depression.

In terms of volume, antidepressants other than SSRIs remain the predominant choice for treating depression, particularly in Europe. Known as tricyclic antidepressants, the products are cheaper, clinically effective and more extensively studied than selective serotonin re-take inhibitors.

But in terms of value, SSRIs are taking the lion's share: last year, 74% of sales in the $7.1 billion market were cornered by SSRIs. Prozac, the most prescribed SSRI, accounts annually for $2.4 billion in sales.

Higher prices don't seem to be damaging SSRIs' popularity with prescribers. Their improved side-effect profiles and relative safety in cases of overdose seem to outweigh cost considerations, according to the report. PR

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