Report: Branded Drug Use Sharply Down, Generics Way Up

April 21, 2011
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A healthcare informatics company issues a report today that I really do not find surprising. The trends of Pharma of late are much fewer fast-tracked medications in the pipeline, decreased NDAs for many novel and like-classed (so-called “me-too” drugs) medications, and — are you ready for this? — much greater healthcare consumer spending on generics, which, according to the report, now make up almost 80 percent of the pharma marketplace.

A healthcare informatics company issues a report today that I really do not find surprising. The trends of Pharma of late are much fewer fast-tracked medications in the pipeline, decreased NDAs for many novel and like-classed (so-called “me-too” drugs) medications, and — are you ready for this? — much greater healthcare consumer spending on generics, which, according to the report, now make up almost 80 percent of the pharma marketplace.

It would be too easy to blame this on the economy. At the root of this and other findings detailed in the report are forces more complex in the healthcare economy than just the principles of supply and demand. After all, while there are fewer patient visits and greater demand by providers and health systems for payments by third parties, you can bet that Pharma still manages to turn a profit. Just take a look at the volume of sales by therapeutic areas: anti-cancer drugs continue to lead the way.

The top five therapy classes were: oncologics, with $22.3 billion in 2010 spending; respiratory agents, at $19.3 billion; lipid regulators, at $18.7 billion; antidiabetes drugs, at $16.9 billion; and antipsychotics, at $16.1 billion. Growth in spending among these classes ranged from 0.9 percent for lipid regulators to 12.5 percent for antidiabetes medications.

Although consumers, third party payers, hospitals, and providers all appear to be embracing quality provisions as a way to control costs, it is somewhat less clear what this pharmacologic austerity will ultimately mean for the management of chronic disease and how that will impact the cost of healthcare over the next 10 years. | LINK [PDF] to IMS report

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