Rise In Prescription Drug Prices Slows
BMI View: The US pharmaceutical market is starting to show signs of fragility that will concern drugmakers. The rise in prices is slowing, absolute sales are contracting and the number of prescriptions dispensed in per-capita terms is decreasing. We nevertheless maintain a positive outlook for the market, especially the patented drug sector. This is due to an overall willingness and ability to pay for innovative medicines, from both the public and private sectors.
Medicine prices are under downward pressure in the US. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the seasonally-adjusted consumer price index (CPI) year-on-year percentage change for prescription drugs has fallen from 4.3% in April 2011 to 0.6% in April 2013. This is a significant development as prices have been elevated for over three years, as drugmakers look to offset the negative effect of a wave of patent expiries for several blockbusters. We also note that this is the first time that the prescription drug CPI is below that of the general CPI since the height of the financial crisis in November 2008.
Despite the recent contraction in the absolute value of the US pharmaceutical market for the first time in decades,  volume sales are still increasing. Data from primary market research firm IMS Health shows that the number of dispensed prescriptions increased from 4,028mn in 2011 to 4,078mn in 2012, a rise of 1.2%. The leading therapeutic classes in terms of dispensed prescriptions are anti-hypertensives (656mn; +0.5%), pain medications (472mn; +1.5%), mental health drugs (329mn; +2.8%), antibacterials (268mn; -2.2%) and lipid regulators (255mn; unchanged). Excluding the effect of population growth, the number of dispensed prescriptions actually fell by 0.1%.
|A Significant Development|
|Seasonally-Adjusted US Consumer Price Index (CPI) Year-On-Year Percentage Change|