Growth in the global healthcare market remained flat in the twelve months to February 2005, according to the latest data from IMS Health, which show that drug sales through retail pharmacies in the world’s 13 key markets rose by 6% to $351 billion dollars – the same increase as last month [[29/03/05e]].

Sales in the top five European markets showed 5% growth to $88 billion, which was also the same as the previous survey, while North America posted an 8% sales growth to $187 billion. Japan increased slightly to 2% with a market worth in excess of $58 billion, while US dollar growth in the three Latin American markets of Mexico, Brazil and Argentina fell to 11%, compared to 19% in the last survey.

By therapeutic category the biggest increases worldwide were the blood agents and cytostatics categories, rising 12% $13 billion and $18 billion respectively. The second biggest group is the anti-ulcerant class, which increased 1.7% to $22 billion. The best-selling drug for the 12-month period was still Pfizer’s lipid-lowerer, Lipitor (atorvastatin), worth almost $11 billion, and with growth at more than 14%. Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s clot-thinning agent, Plavix (clopidogrel), still has the largest growth at the top – up 29%, although this is a slight decrease since the last survey.