Pharmaceutical sales will grow slowly in Europe, at only 2% average annual growth between 2010 and 2015, hit by slow economic growth and cost containment across the continent.

That is the view of a report from IHS Global Insight which notes that in contrast, healthcare spending growth will pick up across the world beginning in 2012 as countries begin to emerge from recession. Private healthcare expenditure growth on out-of-pocket and insurance will be strongest across Europe with 5% compound annual growth from 2010-15, compared with 3% in North America and less in Asia.

The report notes that public health expenditure growth will be strongest in Asia with a 7% rise expected over the five-year period. Gustav Ando, director of IHS's healthcare and pharma group, said costs are "caught in a complex web of both positive and negative drivers".

He added that "downward pressures stem from austerity measures across southern Europe, which are having a knock-on effect around the world", as well as general cost containment and "health technology assessment implementation". Balancing these are "continued innovation, particularly in the area of oncology and vaccines, and untapped demand in emerging markets", Mr Ando claimed. This is demonstrated by expected 5% compound annual gross domestic product growth in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries over the next five years.

The report concludes by noting that the USA is "expected to endure a steady increase in total healthcare expenditure across all payers in the next five years due to growing costs and lack of cost containment measures in the new healthcare legislation". As a result, it will continue to spend a disproportionate percentage of GDP on healthcare, 16% compared with 6%-11% in other developed nations.