U.S. pharma market slows

U.S. drug market growth matches sluggish Japan, but lags behind Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Turkey, China, says IMS.

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By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- America is still the biggest drug market in the world, but its sluggish growth was blown away by most international markets last year, said IMS Health on Tuesday.

Worldwide prescription drug sales grew 6.4% to $712 billion in 2007, said IMS Health, a market research firm. This includes the United States drug market, which grew a mere 3.8% in 2007 to $286.5 billion, its lowest rate since the early 1960s, said Connecticut-based IMS.

The drug market for the U.S. combined with Canada grew 4.2% in 2007 to $304 billion, said IMS. But while the U.S.-Canada market accounted for 46% of worldwide drug sales, its expansion slowed dramatically from 2006, when sales grew 8.3%.

This growth was outpaced by markets south of the border. Mexico's drug market grew 7.5% to $11.1 billion in 2007, said IMS, while the markets in Central and South America surged 11.6% to $42.4 billion. This includes the relatively large Brazilian market, which grew 9.7% to $15.7 billion.

The drug market in five major European countries -- France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain -- grew 4.8% to $140 billion in 2007. Without including these countries, the European market grew at a much faster 10.9% pace to $81.6 billion. This includes Russia, one of the fastest-growing markets with a 20.2% expansion, and Turkey, which grew 17.2%.

China was the most rapidly-expanding market in 2007, with a growth of 25.7%, said IMS, while South Korea grew 10.7% and India grew 13%. IMS did not release totals for these countries. But it said the Asian market, not including Japan, Australia and New Zealand, was 11% of the world total, so it would exceed $70 billion.

The Japanese market is one of the largest outside the U.S., but its growth matches America's glacial pace. Drug sales in Japan grew 3.8% in 2007 to $65.2 billion, said IMS.

Growth in the so-called mature markets tends to be slower than in countries undergoing rapid modernization and development, which often results in better access to healthcare.

U.S.-based Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, Fortune 500) is the world's biggest drug company, though it also sells consumer products and medical devices. Pfizer (PFE, Fortune 500) is the world leader among companies that primarily sell drugs. To top of page

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