Drug sales through retail pharmacies in the world’s 13 key markets posted 6% growth in the 12 months to April 2005, closing at $356 billion dollars, according to the latest figures from IMS Health.

Sales in both North America and Europe remained at the same level as the previous months’ survey, rising 7% to $188.7 billion and 4% to $89 billion respectively [[18/05/05h]]. The Japanese market witnessed a continued slowdown, with 2% growth in a market worth some $59.2 billion during the period, and the three Latin American markets increased slightly compared to the previous survey, with sales rising 13% to just shy of $14 billion. Australia and New Zealand climbed 7% to $5.3 billion.

By therapeutic area, the key growth area was in the cytostatics category, with sales growth at 12% to $18 billion, while the hypolipidaemia subgroup remained the single largest category, with sales of $27 billion – up 10%. The second biggest group is the anti-ulcerants, class at $22 billion and 1% growth. The best selling drug for the 12 months ending April 2005 was still Pfizer’s Lipitor (atorvastatin), worth over almost $11 billion, but with a reduced growth rate of 13%, which was dwarfed by the 26% growth recorded by Sanofi-Aventis’ super-aspirin, Plavix (clopidogrel).

Overall, the top five pharmaceutical companies worldwide remained Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co, Sanofi-Aventis and AstraZeneca.