Generics seen slashing global drug sales growth

Friday, 27 May 2011 00:07 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Global sales growth of prescription drugs could be cut in half over the next five years as lucrative brands lose patent protection and cheaper generics and emerging markets become the only significant growth drivers, according to IMS Health

“Past patterns of spending offer few clues about the level of expected growth through 2015,” said Murray Aitken, an IMS Health executive whose division conducted the study.

“There are unprecedented dynamics at play, which are driving rapid shifts in the mix of spending by patients and payers between branded products and generics,” said Aitken, whose company tracks prescription drug sales and trends.

Average annual sales are expected to grow three to six per cent during the period, reaching nearly $1.1 trillion by 2015. But the trend reflects a slowdown from annual growth of 6.2 per cent seen during the past five years, the report said.

US sales will grow only zero to three per cent a year over the period, while sales in Europe will rise one to four per cent. Spending on branded drugs is expected to be little changed in such developed markets in 2015, with growth coming instead from higher demand for cheaper generics.

A wave of new generics is approaching as an unprecedented number of big drugs lose US patent protection by 2015, including Pfizer Inc’s $10 billion-a-year cholesterol fighter Lipitor, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co’s Plavix blood clot preventer and Eli Lilly and Co’s Zyprexa for schizophrenia.

Aitken said too few novel drugs are being approved to greatly offset lost sales of those facing the generic onslaught.

“We continue to be disappointed by the number of new chemical entities and biologics entering the market,” he said.

All told, cheaper generic formulations of the maturing drugs will produce $98 billion in net savings to insurers in developed countries through 2015.

“The US share of global spending will decline from 41 per cent in 2005 to 31 per cent in 2015, while the share of spending from the top five European countries will decline from 20 per cent to 13 per cent,” the report said.

Meanwhile, it said spending will likely double over the next five years in emerging markets, to between $285 million and $315 million a year – approaching US levels.

“Seventeen high growth emerging markets, led by China, will contribute 28 per cent of total spending by 2015, up from only 12 per cent in 2005,” the report said. It noted that growth will come primarily from generics.

Global spending on cancer drugs is expected to reach $75 billion by 2015, rising at a much slower rate than in the past five years because many newer and costly biotech treatments are already being widely used in developed markets.

But annual spending on diabetes medicines is expected to grow four to seven per cent through 2015, due largely to changing diets and lifestyles in developing countries that will increase the prevalence of Type II diabetes.

Vital drugs shortage now easing

By Shezna Shums

A severe shortage of vital life saving drugs was seen in Government hospitals over the last six months, however to date this situation has improved greatly and about 95 per cent of the shortage of drugs has been cleared stated the Ministry of Health.

Rumours that this drug shortage was the result of misdoings of an ex-Director of the Ministry of Health were denied by the Ministry of Health Press Officer W.M.D. Wanninayaka.  He added that a letter of refutation has been issued to the organisation in this regard.

The Chairman of the State Pharmaceutical Corporation too had not heard such accusations.

Wanninayaka said that the shortage of drugs during the previous months was mainly due to the delaying of some orders as well as the low quality of drugs received by some suppliers. However, the last two months saw most of these drugs back on the shelves and in hospitals “Now about 95 per cent of the drugs are available in hospitals,” he said.

“Some hospitals do not even have the room now to store the available drugs,” he highlighted.

Chairman State Pharmaceutical Corporation Prof. S.D. Jayaratne noted that the shortage of drugs in the market were the result of a number of issues such as low quality drugs, distribution problems and others “There are 100 different reasons why there are shortages of drugs in the market,” stated the Chairman. “Now the problem is sorted mostly,” he stressed.

The President of the Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry Ananda Samarasinghe said that most of the drugs used in Sri Lanka were imported and only about 10 per cent were locally manufactured.

“About seven to eight months back, the situation was really bad but by this week we hope to see that there are no shortages of these important drugs,” he stated.

“Last week saw about 12 types of vital drugs still in short supply, however this is an improvement from a few months back when there were about 300 drugs in short supply,” highlighted the President. “By this week we hope to see the shortage of these 12 drugs lessen,” he added.

Following this problem the Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry along with the Ministry of Health hold daily review meetings on the supply of drugs to the country and both parties have also started having regular meetings so that the suppliers have good communications with the Ministry about the drugs in demand and any shortfalls that need to be addressed. The most recent meeting took place last week between both parties.

The Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry plays an important role in the supply of drugs to the market as many companies attached to the chamber place orders for drugs by the manufacturers and in turn supply to the State organisations.

“If there is any shortage or delay, it is easier and faster for one of the importing companies to communicate with the manufactures to expedite the process,” explained Samarasinghe.

Currently manufacturers too require a letter of credit when orders are placed for drugs and other medical equipment.

Once orders are placed for the drugs or medical equipment, time is also considered for manufacture of the drug or equipment, time taken for shipping the drugs and for quality checks before they are available in the market.