IMS Health Reports 2004 Global Pharmaceutical Sales Grew 7 Percent to $550 Billion; China and Biotechnology Emerge as Key Growth Drivers

FAIRFIELD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–March 9, 2005–IMS Health (NYSE: RX), the world’s leading provider of information and consulting solutions to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, today announced that audited and estimated unaudited global pharmaceutical sales grew 7 percent constant dollar in 2004 to US $550 billion. Nearly 45 percent, or $248 billion of all global pharmaceutical sales, were in North America. Of the major pharmaceutical markets, China showed the strongest year-over-year performance, growing 28 percent to $9.5 billion.

“For the first time, global pharmaceutical sales surpassed the $500 billion threshold,” said Murray Aitken, IMS senior vice president, Corporate Strategy. “The global growth rate moderated as the market is increasingly influenced by pressures and uncertainties, including pricing, safety and regulatory issues. Nevertheless, market growth continues to reflect the unmet need for medications, as well as ongoing demographic dynamics that are strengthening underlying demand. New opportunities are emerging in markets such as China, and from sources of innovation in biotechnology, which will continue to fuel future growth.”

Factors contributing to growth in 2004 included a focus on cost containment by payers in major markets and the rise in the use of generics, which accounted for more than 30 percent of volume consumption in the United States, Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom.

At the same time, 82 drugs qualified as blockbusters – defined as drugs with sales over $1 billion annually — 17 more than the previous year. Increasingly, blockbusters target specialist markets such as oncology, and are fueled by a surge in new products derived from biotechnology. Last year, 11 blockbuster drugs originated from biotech companies.

Biotech products accounted for 27 percent of the active research and development pipeline, and 10 percent of global sales in 2004. IMS expects that over the next five years, innovative products derived from biotechnology will continue to grow in the double digits and represent an increasing share of the overall market.

Regional Performance

North America, Europe and Japan accounted for 88 percent of audited worldwide pharmaceutical sales in 2004, the same level as in 2003. North America sales grew 8 percent, to $248 billion. Sales in the European Union rose 6 percent, to $144 billion, while the rest of Europe saw sales growth of 12 percent, to $9 billion. Japan realized modest year-over-year growth of 2 percent, to $58 billion.

The Chinese market continued to grow at a strong pace in 2004, up 28 percent to $9.5 billion. China, currently the ninth-largest pharmaceutical market, is expected to become the world’s eighth largest by 2008.

“At a time when pharmaceutical growth is moderating in North America, Europe and Japan, China has emerged as a significant growth market, which will support sustained global growth in the future,” said Graham Lewis, IMS vice president, Strategic Consulting.

Leading Therapy Classes

The ten largest therapy classes accounted for 33 percent of the total audited world market in 2004, representing more than $173 billion. Five of those classes — cholesterol and triglyceride reducers, anti-cancer agents, antipsychotics, angiotension-II inhibitors and anti-epileptics — grew more than 10 percent year-over-year. Angiotension-II inhibitors grew at a 22 percent pace and anti-epileptics sales were up 18 percent.

Cholesterol and triglyceride reducers continued to hold the number-one position in therapeutic classes worldwide, with sales of $30 billion, up 12 percent. Antiulcerants remained the second-largest therapy class, growing 1 percent to $25 billion, with growth slowed by the transfer of Prilosec(R) to over-the counter status in the United States.

In 2004, the anti-cancer class grew dramatically, overtaking antidepressants and mood stabilizers as the third-ranked therapy class. Sales for anti-cancer products were up 17 percent from 2003, to $24 billion.

“The rising sales of anti-cancer agents is another example of biotechnology’s impact in the global marketplace,” noted Lewis. “Today, there are seven anti-cancer drugs — MabThera(R), Glivec(R), Eloxatine(R), Gemzar(R), Casodex(R), Taxotere(R) and Zometa(R) — that have achieved blockbuster status.”

Further Information

All relevant information detailing 2004 global performance by categories, including global pharmaceutical sales, pharmaceutical sales by region, top ten therapy classes by sales, and the top ten products as well as other important facts, can be viewed on the IMS website under “Top-Line Industry Data” at

Global pharmaceutical sales are derived from IMS audits, which cover 95 percent of the market, while the remaining 5 percent are estimates derived from IMS World Review(TM). Growth in sales is measured in constant dollars, enabling analyses without the influence of fluctuating currency exchange rates. Pharmaceutical sales figures are measured in current US dollars and include prescription and certain over-the-counter data and reflect ex-manufacturer prices.

About IMS

Operating in more than 100 countries, IMS is the world’s leading provider of information solutions to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. With $1.6 billion in 2004 revenue and over 50 years of industry experience, IMS offers leading-edge business intelligence products and services that are integral to clients’ day-to-day operations, including marketing effectiveness solutions for prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceutical products; sales optimization solutions to increase pharmaceutical sales force productivity; and consulting and customized services that turn information into actionable insights. Additional information is available at

IMS is a registered trademark of IMS Health Incorporated. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.


Easily post a comment below using your Linkedin, Twitter, Google or Facebook account. Comments won't automatically be posted to your social media accounts unless you select to share.