Prescription sales grew 11.8% in 2002

May 1, 2003

Pharmaceutical Representative

Prescription drug sales in the United States grew 11.8% to $192.2 billion in 2002, compared with $172 billion in sales the previous year.

Prescription drug sales in the United States grew 11.8% to $192.2 billion in 2002, compared with $172 billion in sales the previous year, according to Fairfield, CT-based IMS Health. Figures reflect wholesale prices.

"If you examine pharmaceutical trends over the past decade, 2002's growth showed a return to more historic levels," said Paul Wilson, vice president of IMS Statistical Services. "The slowdown in dollar growth last year was fueled primarily by the generic erosion of some blockbuster drugs losing patent protection, the fewest number of new molecular entities approved by the FDA since 1983 and rising patient co-payments. However, growth is still relatively strong due to continued favorable demographics and growing demand for a broad range of branded products."

Leading U.S. therapy classes

The top 10 therapy classes accounted for 36.3% of total U.S. prescription sales in 2002 and grew 11.9% over the prior year, as measured by U.S. dollars. Six of the top 10 classes experienced double-digit growth. Sales in the seizure disorders class grew fastest among the top 10 therapy classes with 22.7% growth in 2002, yielding a sales volume of $5.5 billion.

The top five classes remained in the same position as 2001. Cholesterol-reducing statins were first, with sales of $12.5 billion and 6.5% total market share.

Existing branded products drove most of the growth in these therapeutic areas, with generic penetration lowering the growth in some of these classes. For example, the full-year impact of generic fluoxetine impacted the SSRI/SNRI category.

Top seller: Lipitor

New York-based Pfizer Inc.'s Lipitor® (atorvastatin calcium) remained the leading U.S. prescription drug in 2002, with sales of $6.1 billion and 18.6% growth from 2001. Whitehouse Station, NJ-based Merck & Co. Inc.'s Zocor® (simvastatin) rose from third place in 2001 into second place, with $4.2 billion, while Lake Forest, IL-based TAP's Prevacid® (lansoprazole) moved into third position. Wilmington, DE-based AstraZeneca LP's Prilosec® (omeprazole) fell from second in 2001 to fourth last year, with sales down 21.8%. Sales of Peapack, NJ-based Pharmacia's Celebrex® (celecoxib) slipped from fifth to eighth position.

Procrit® (epoetin alfa), the hematologic from Bridgewater, NJ-based Ortho Biotech Products LP, continued to do well, recording the highest increase in growth among the top 10 products for the second year in a row. Zyprexa® (olanzapine), Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co.'s psychotherapeutic, also delivered high growth at 17.0%, moving up to sixth with $2.9 billion in sales.

Pfizer, Glaxo lead in sales

The top two pharmaceutical companies in 2002 remained consistent with 2001. Pfizer, the leading pharmaceutical company in 2002 as measured by prescription sales, experienced 12.8% growth and $19.5 billion in sales. Research Triangle Park, NC-based GlaxoSmithKline, second on the list, had sales of $17.3 billion, with 10.8% growth over 2001.

According to Wilson, most of Pfizer's growth resulted from strong demand for its existing products, whereas GlaxoSmithKline also benefited from the first full-year sales of Advair,® an asthma product that has shown strong growth since its launch in 2001.

Of the top 10 companies, East Hanover, NJ-based Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., seventh, had the highest 2002 growth at 19.4%, assisted by new product launches in the dermatology and attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder markets. Merck slipped to fourth with $12.7 billion in sales, only a 4.5% increase over 2001. AstraZeneca rounded out the top five in 2002 at $10.9 billion.

The 10 largest pharmaceutical companies, as measured by U.S. prescription product sales, accounted for more than half of total U.S. prescription sales in 2002, with a market share of 57.6%. PR

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