The worldwide pharmaceuticals market saw a 6% sales spurt for the 12-month period to March 2005, to $354 billion dollars, according to new data from IMS Health.

However, while North America surged ahead of the average at 7% sales growth to $188 billion, Europe saw a 1% slump compared to the previous survey – with growth at just 4%. Japan trailed in third position, with growth at 3% in a market worth $59 billion dollars, but dollar sales in the three evaluated Latin American markets dipped compared to IMS’ previous survey.

As expected, the hypolipidaemia subgroup was the single largest therapeutic category, with $27 billion in sales and growth an impressive 11% - although this represented a slight decrease from the previous survey. It was followed by the antiulcerants at $22 billion, up just 1.3%.

And Pfizer’s Lipitor (atorvastatin) continued to be the biggest selling drug in the world, pulling in revenues of $10.8 billion for the 12-month period. However, growth did dip, and paled in comparison to Sanofi-Aventis’ super-aspirin Plavix (clopidogrel), which catapulted forward 27%.

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