Rise In Prescription Drug Prices Slows


BMI View: The US pharmaceutical market is starting to show signs of fragility that will concern drugmakers. The rise in prices is slowing, absolute sales are contracting and the number of prescriptions dispensed in per-capita terms is decreasing. We nevertheless maintain a positive outlook for the market, especially the patented drug sector. This is due to an overall willingness and ability to pay for innovative medicines , from both the public and private sectors.

Medicine prices are under downward pressure in the US. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the seasonally-adjusted consumer price index (CPI) year-on-year percentage change for prescription drugs has fallen from 4.3% in April 2011 to 0.6% in April 2013. This is a significant development as prices have been elevated for over three years, as drugmakers look to offset the negative effect of a wave of patent expiries for several blockbusters. We also note that this is the first time that the prescription drug CPI is below that of the general CPI since the height of the financial crisis in November 2008.

A Significant Development
Seasonally-Adjusted US Consumer Price Index (CPI) Year-On-Year Percentage Change

Despite the recent contraction in the absolute value of the US pharmaceutical market for the first time in decades, [1] volume sales are still increasing. Data from primary market research firm IMS Health shows that the number of dispensed prescriptions increased from 4,028mn in 2011 to 4,078mn in 2012, a rise of 1.2%. The leading therapeutic classes in terms of dispensed prescriptions are anti-hypertensives (656mn; +0.5%), pain medications (472mn; +1.5%), mental health drugs (329mn; +2.8%), antibacterials (268mn; -2.2%) and lipid regulators (255mn; unchanged). Excluding the effect of population growth, the number of dispensed prescriptions actually fell by 0.1%.

Number Of Dispensed Prescriptions By Therapy Area In The US (mn)
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Source: IMS Health
Total 3,870 3,953 3,997 4,028 4,078
Antihypertensives, Plain & Combo 653 654 657 653 656
Pain 439 449 459 465 472
Mental Health 293 301 309 320 329
Antibacterials 272 275 271 274 268
Lipid Regulators 238 249 255 255 255
Other CNS 173 179 184 188 189
Antidiabetics 166 169 172 173 174
Respiratory Agents 147 152 153 153 159
Anti-Ulcerants 139 146 147 150 157
Nervous System Disorders 128 135 142 148 156

[1] Business Monitor Online - Industry Trend Analysis - Prescription Drug Market Forecast Revised Downwards - 10 May 2013.

This article is tagged to:
Sector: Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare
Geography: United States