Firm Sees Drugs Sales Rising 5 to 7 Percent Next Year, Other Drug Industry NewsThe Associated Press reports that global prescription drug sales should rise 5 percent to 7 percent next year, "reaching at least $880 billion, fueled by new drugs and rising sales in developing countries, according to drug data firm IMS Health. The company's annual forecast sees the market recovering a bit from this year, when sales are on pace to total about $845 billion, up just 4 percent to 5 percent over 2008. That was the lowest growth rate over the past decade, when sales jumped 6 percent to 12 percent each year." Several factors will help propel the increase, including new, more powerful drugs being launched "in about two dozen of the top developed and emerging markets," and economic growth in China and other emerging markets. Sales are expected to explode in places like China as it spends more on health care and has a growing middle class. "Prescription sales will grow far less in developed markets because insurers and government health programs, particularly in Europe and the U.S., are working to hold down what they spend on prescription drugs" (Johnson, 10/6).
In the meantime, The Wall Street Journal reports that FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said Wednesday that the FDA is encountering antibiotic resistance in virtually all antibiotics because of widespread use of the drugs. "'We no longer have effective ways to treat serious infectious disease. Clearly we must encourage more judicious use of these important drugs,' she said. The drugs have been almost routinely used in recent years for common colds and ear infections in children, and have become fairly standard additions to feed in chickenhouses and for livestock, which are then eaten by consumers. The result has been the growth of bacteria and life-threatening diseases that respond poorly, if at all, to even some of the most modern antibiotic treatments" (Mundy, 10/6).
In a separate story, The Wall Street Journal reports that a new study suggests that worries "over the risk of combining the blockbuster blood thinner Plavix with certain heartburn pills may be overblown. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year urged doctors to avoid prescribing drugs such as Nexium and Prilosec together with Plavix after research suggested the class of heart-burn medicine - known as proton-pump inhibitors - blunted the effects of the blood thinner. The drug's label was amended to mention the concern, which suggested patients were at increased risk of heart attack. But the new report, based on a 3,800-patient study published online Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine, didn't find any evidence of increased heart risk among patients taking both drugs compared with those taking Plavix plus a placebo" (Winslow, 10/7).
In a third story, The Wall Street Journal reports that Novartis, which entered into a new partnership with a new vaccine company Thursday, said it will use new technologies to speed up influenza vaccines. "The move could give the Swiss pharmaceutical giant a key edge over competitors and may allow Novartis to ask for higher vaccine prices should the venture prove successful and help the traditional flu vaccine production to be cut to three to four months instead of the current five to six months, analysts said" (Mijuk, 10/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.