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Pharma set for a strong 2015 as drug sales jump

Industry looking to put the recent ‘horror’ patent expiry years behind it

Pharmacist  

The global life science industry is set to see sales climb by 5% until the end of the decade as pharma looks to steady the ship after a rocky four years.

This is according to a new report from analysts at EvaluatePharma, who found that emerging therapeutic categories and a number of breakthrough drug approvals are powering key drug sales across the US and Europe.

This, in turn, is fuelling a projected 5% increase in global prescription sales over the next five years.  

With the FDA approving an unprecedented 44 drugs in 2014, eight of which are forecast to have sales of more than $1bn five years after launch, analysts at EP said that “sustained R&D productivity may finally be within reach”.

Lisa Urquhart, editor of EP Vantage, said: “Any fears that the pharmaceutical industry might be heading towards a slowdown after the last two years of phenomenal growth can be put to rest for now.”

But she warned that the spectre of drug pricing may hamper sales growth, and that pharma needed to re-think its pricing policy. 

“For the industry to sustain this impressive growth they will have to make compromises around global pricing and market access,” she added.

“As such, pharmaceutical companies need to either accept lower prices for its products, or persuade payers that the therapeutic benefits outweigh the cost of disease.”

The report forecasts that worldwide prescription drug sales will reach nearly one trillion dollars by 2020.

In 2014, US prescription drug sales surged 8.9% while growth returned to Europe, with a 2.4% jump. Japanese sales in yen dropped however by 2.6%.

AbbVie's autoinflammatory drug Humira (adalimumab) remained the top-selling product in 2014 with sales of $13.9 billion; Gilead's hep C pill Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) debuts at number two with sales of $10bn.

But this will not last as Gilead's next-gen treatment Harvoni (ledipasvir/sofosbuvir) is set, alongside Sovaldi, to become the biggest selling treatment worldwide this year. 

EP also notes that overall the Swiss major Novartis will remain the number one pharma company through 2020, with total prescription drug sales of $53.3bn.

Bouncing back 

This means that 2015 is set to be a strong year for the industry as a whole, with the rest of the decade also forecast to see a return to sustainable growth.

This comes after a tumultuous time for pharma in the first half of the decade as a number of major blockbusters began losing their patents from 2011, with major hits for Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Lilly seeing billions of dollars wiped off the industry's revenue stream.

Pfizer was in fact the hardest hit, with its once $13bn a year statin Lipitor (atorvastatin) losing its patents in 2011/12, with sales falling by $10bn in just two years.

But EP said that the industry is looking to put this behind them, with a number of launches for 2015 - including new LDL anti-PCSK9 drugs from Sanofi and Amgen as well as GSK's severe asthma antibody mepolizumab - estimated to be worth around $8bn by 2020. 

Article by
Ben Adams

19th June 2015

From: Sales

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