Drug spending through retail pharmacies in the world’s top thirteen markets remained flat during the twelve months to November 2004, according to the latest statistics from IMS Health, which show an increase of just 7% to $345 billion dollars – the same as the previous month’s survey when sales rose 7% to $ billion [[16/12/04f]].

Sales in the top five European markets showed a 6% constant exchange growth to $86 billion, which is up on the 5% reported in last month’s survey. The UK led the pack once again, with 8% growth to $15 billion, followed by 7% growth in Spain to $10 billion and 6% growth in the French market to $21 billion. Sales in the North American region slowed to 8% ($183 billion), versus 9% growth last month, while Australia and New Zealand collectively posted a 10% rise in sales to $5 billion – a slight improvement on the 9% reported last month. Latin American sales climbed 16% to $13 billion, which is the same as last month’s survey, while in Japan, sales climbed just 2% to almost $57 billion. This latter figure is an improvement on the 1% growth in the twelve months to October 2004.

In terms of therapeutic category, the biggest increase worldwide again came from the blood agents category, with a sales growth at constant exchange of 13% to just shy of $13 billion, while the single largest therapeutic sub category in dollar sales continues to be the hypolipidemia class, selling $26 billion during the twelve months, with a growth of 12% – albeit a slight decrease from the 13% growth recorded in last month’s survey.

The best selling drug for the year ending November 2004 was still Pfizer’s cholesterol-lowerer, Lipitor (atorvastatin), which was worth over $10 billion, with growth at 13%. Bristol-Myers Squibb’s clot thinning agent, Plavix (clopidogrel), still has the largest growth at the top with almost 33% – a slight decrease since the last survey. Overall, the top five drugs for the year remained Lipitor, Merck & Co’s cholesterol-lowerer Zocor (simvastatin), AstraZeneca’s anti-ulcerant drug Nexium (esomeprazole), Pfizer’s hypertension offering Norvasc (amlodipine) and Plavix. The top five companies in the year continued to be: Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, AstraZeneca, and Novartis.