Prescription drug prices hold at 3.4%

January 1, 1999

Pharmaceutical Representative

The annual rate of change for prescription pharmaceutical prices in the United States held at 3.4% in the third quarter of 1998, compared to the third quarter of 1997.

The annual rate of change for prescription pharmaceutical prices in the United States held at 3.4% in the third quarter of 1998, compared to the third quarter of 1997, according to IMS Health, Plymouth Meeting, PA.

The rate was unchanged from the second quarter, but some market segments showed significant changes.

Prices rose significantly for some generic products, for example, causing a marked reduction in overall price declines. The net overall generic price change in the third quarter was down 2.7%, representing "a major change in the pricing strategy for the generic marketplace," IMS Health noted.

This change caused a slight increase in prescription drug prices for the retail sector. They rose by roughly 4.3%, up from the annual rate of 3.9% reported in the second quarter.

"This increase in the retail sector is being driven by the slowing of price declines for generics," said Myron Holubiak, general manager of IMS Health's consulting division. "While prices of brand-name drugs in this sector remain unchanged from last quarter, generic drug prices decreased 3.2%. This is a significant change from the 6% declines seen in the past year."

In the non-retail sector, brand-name drug prices rose by a mere 1.1%, a rate considerably lower than the 2% increase recorded in the second quarter.

Overall, prescription sales volume grew by 12.4% for the third quarter versus the same period last year.

Prices accounted for less than one-third of total sales growth, as new products and line extensions drove the majority of the growth. Volume and mix categories accounted for the rest of the growth.

Holubiak said: "We maintain that new product sales - not just price increases - are driving growth." PR