Drug-data tracker IMS Health says U.S. prescription drug sales soared to $216.4 billion in 2003, up from $194 billion the year before, an 11.5% rate of growth.
Meanwhile, IMS estimates U.S. imports of drugs from Canada totaled $1.1 billion last year, while sales of generic drugs and biotech drugs each rose 22%.
There were 21 new molecular entities -- new drugs as opposed to largely repositioned older ones -- that entered the market last year, vs. 17 in 2002.
"Interestingly, we saw a trend change in overall direct-to-consumer spending, which had been flat in 2002," said Paul Wilson, vice president of IMS Statistical Services, in a prepared statement on the company's Web site. "Early indications are that full year 2003 spend will show a double-digit increase."
Ranked by drug therapy class, the top six classes remained in the same positions in 2003 as in 2002 with statins at the top with sales of $13.9 billion, up 11.9%. Following in order were proton pump inhibitors, $12.9 billion, up 12.6%; antidepressants, $10.9 billion, up 11.9%; antipsychotics, $8.1 billion, up 22.1%; erythropoietens for anemia, $7.4 billion, up 16.3%; and drugs for seizures, $6.9 billion, up 24.4%.
Lipitor, was the top-selling prescription drug for the third straight year, with sales of $6.8 billion, up 10.8%, followed by Zocor at $4.4 billion, up 7%.
Prilosec, the No. 4 ranked drug in 2002, fell out of the top 10 with the introduction of a generic in late 2002. But AstraZeneca's strategy to switch patients to its next-generation Nexium has helped fill the gap. Nexium leaped to seventh place with a 57.7% growth rate and $3.1 billion in sales, according to IMS Health.
Pfizer at $29.2 billion in U.S. sales, was the top ranked drug seller in 2003. GlaxoSmithKlein, at $18.6 billion, came in second, and Johnson & Johnson, at $15.2 billion, ranked third, IMS Health says.