Drug sales through retail pharmacies in the world’s 13 key markets hit $363.73 billion in the year to August 2005, representing annual growth of 5% and staying level at the previous month's annual rate [[15/09/05d]], according to global healthcare information provider IMS Health's latest Retail Monitor.

Pharmaceutical turnover in Europe's top five markets (Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain) turned in 3% growth at $90.39 billion dollars (at constant exchange rates), marking a slight increase from the $89.94 billion recorded in August’s report. Sales in North America of $191.85 billion, up 6%, were driven by an 8% leap in revenues from cardiovascular products and a 7% rise in central nervous system drugs from the prior year.

Meanwhile, overall growth in Japan inched up to 5% (at CER) with sales of $60.66 billion, compared to the year to July 2005's 4% growth. Turnover in the Latin American countries leapt 18% to $15.2 billion, up from last month’s $14.9 billion.

In terms of therapeutic category, the key area was cytostatics, which achieved revenue growth of 13%. The single largest therapeutic subcategory in dollar sales continued to be the hypolipidaemia class, with $27.76 billion. This marked a rise of 8.2%, but was a small decrease from the last IMS Health Retail Monitor, which recorded growth of 8.9%. The next largest group was the anti-ulcerants, which generated turnover of $22.48 billion, up 2.7% over the year.

Once again, the biggest selling product was US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer's hypolipidaemic drug, Lipitor (atorvastatin), which raked in $11.16 billion, but with a reduced growth at 10%. French drugmaker, Sanofi-Aventis' antiplatelet drug, Plavix (clopidogrel), which is currently ranked fourth in terms of sales, held on to its position as the fastest growing drug, with turnover jumping 20.9%.

There was no change in the top five companies from July’s report, which currently rank as follows: Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Sanofi-Aventis and Merck & Co.