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Global pharmaceutical sales may rise between 5 and 7% next year to USD$880 billion (NZD$1.16 trillion) on soaring demand in developing nations led by China as it becomes the world’s third-largest drug market, according to a Bloomberg report carried in China Daily.

Citing IMS Health Inc, the report said the 2011 projection compares with this year’s 4 to 5% growth in drug sales to $840 billion.

IMS Health, a research company based in Norwalk, Connecticut, said in a report released late last week that emerging markets including China and India are expected to expand by as much as 17% to $180 billion while growth in the United States market slows.

The world’s largest market, the US, is growing at a historically low rate of 3 to 4% as patents expire on top-selling medicines and cheaper generic versions become available to consumers, Murray Aitken, senior vice-president of IMS, was quoted saying.

Drugs with sales of more than $30 billion are expected to lose patent protection next year, according to IMS.

Aitken was quoted saying developed markets’ growth would be constrained with almost half of the global growth next year coming from China and the other emerging markets.

The five biggest European markets – Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom – will grow 1 to 3% as governments cut drug prices as part of efforts to restore fiscal balance, according to the IMS report. In the US, health plans will require pre-authorization for certain medications along with other measures intended to address rising health-care expenditures.

Generic copies will hit the market next year for Pfizer Inc’s cholesterol pill Lipitor, the world’s top-selling drug with sales of $11.4 billion in 2009. Generic versions of the second-best seller, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co’s blood thinner Plavix, will become available in the US in 2012. Together with Eli Lilly & Co’s antipsychotic Zyprexa and Johnson & Johnson’s antibiotic Levaquin – also expected to lose market exclusivity – the drugs account for 93 million prescriptions a year, IMS said.

Developing countries are expected to pick up the slack for the lost revenue. IMS said it expects drug spending in China to increase at least 25% next year as the middle class expands and the government invests in health care. Japan is the second-biggest pharmaceutical market after the US. — Source: China Daily

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