From new drugs to new drug packaging, these eight new need-to-know developments reveal how forward-looking pharmaceutical manufacturers are responding to the clinical and economic forces reshaping the current and future market for prescription medications with the goal of better health for patients and better business health for their operations.

Generic Drugs

Generic drug market in U.S. to top $141 billion by 2021

That’s according to a report from the IMARC Group, the New York-based market research firm. In its report, U.S. Generic Drug Market—Industry Trends, Competitive Landscape, Opportunities and Outlook, IMARC said it expects the generic pharmaceutical market in the U.S. to grow at an annual rate of 11 percent and reach $141.5 billion by 2021. Market “growth inducing factors include aging population, increasing prevalence of chronic diseases and incentives offered to physicians and pharmacists to promote generics,” the report said.

Use of generics reduces $227 billion in drug spending in 2015

Total spending on prescription medications in the U.S. was $227 billion less in 2015 because payers and consumers bought generic versions of higher-priced brand-name pharmaceuticals, according to the report 2016 Generic Drug Savings & Access in the United States from the Generic Pharmaceutical Association. The $227 billion in savings in 2015 represents a nearly 10 percent jump in savings from 2014, when generic use reduced spending by $207 billion, the report said. It’s a more than four-fold increase from the $53 billion in savings in 2005. Of the $227 billion saved last year, commercial health insurers saved the largest percentage with 49 percent, followed by Medicare (30 percent), Medicaid (15 percent) and consumers (6 percent).

Drug Packaging

Report projects growing demand for effective pharmaceutical packaging in U.S.

The demand for pharmaceutical packaging will outpace the demand for overall packaging in the U.S. through the year 2020, according to a market outlook from The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based market research firm. In its report, Packaging: United States, the firm said overall packaging demand will grow 3.5 percent annually over the next four years. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical packaging will grow at an annual rate of 5.4 percent through 2020, which the firm said is “the fastest pace” among leading packaging market segments. “Evolving consumer and medical provider preferences for unit dose and other convenient drug delivery formats will boost demand for high-value-added medication containers,” the market outlook said.

Global pharmaceutical packaging market to reach $84 billion by 2020

That’s according to a report from Technavio Research, the London-based market research firm. The $84 billion will be the result of a more than 6 percent annual growth rate in the drug packaging market over the next four years, the firm said in its outlook, Global Pharmaceutical Packaging Market 2016-2020

The firm said, “The packaging of pharma products is a complex process, demanding special care and attention, with different products having varying packaging requirements.” In a companion report, Technavio cited the growing demand for blister packaging as fueling the overall growth in the global drug packaging market. In Global Blister Packaging Market 2016-2020, the firm said drug makers are turning to blister packaging to increase patients’ refill rates and medication adherence. “Blister packaging implemented by pharmaceutical companies improves refill rates of medication by 15 percent, and the medication compliance has increased by 30 percent,” the company said.

Drug Launches

84% of pharmaceutical makers target U.S. market first when launching a new drug

That’s according to a study from Cutting Edge Information, a market research firm based in Research Triangle Park, N.C. To produce the study, Managing Market Access Launch Activities: Benchmarking Product Commercialization and Cross-Functional Coordination, Cutting Edge surveyed an undisclosed number of drug manufacturers and asked them about their product launch sequencing preferences. Some 84 percent of the respondents chose the U.S. for the first wave of their launches, followed by Germany (63 percent); United Kingdom (61 percent); Canada (50 percent); France (23 percent); Italy (19 percent); and Spain (18 percent).

73% of first-year spending on new U.S. drug launch goes to marketing and commercial initiatives

That’s according to a second study from Cutting Edge Information, which compared how pharmaceutical companies around the world spend their budgets during the first year of a new drug launch. The study, Pharmaceutical Commercialization Profiles: Driving Brand Success with Better Budgeting and Timing, found that U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers spent 73 percent of their brand budget for a new drug on marketing and commercial initiatives during the launch year. By comparison, Asian drug makers and European drug companies spent 52 percent and 19 percent of their brand budgets, respectively, on marketing and commercial initiatives during the launch year. European drug companies spent more of their first-year budgets—42 percent—on medical affairs than did Asian drug firms (25 percent) and U.S. drug makers (14 percent), according to the study.

Drug Innovation

U.S. spending on orphan drugs totaled $30 billion in 2013, or 8.9% of all drug spending that year

Orphan drugs—innovative pharmaceutical products that treat rare or singular diseases—add value to the health care system without unnecessarily driving up overall drug spending. That’s the takeaway from a study in Health Affairs, “Orphan Drug Expenditures in the United States: A Historical and Prospective Analysis, 2007-2018.” Spending on 286 orphan drugs approved by the FDA rose to $30 billion in 2013, or 8.9 percent of total drug spending that year, from $15 billion in 2007, or 4.8 percent of total drug spending that year, according to the study. By 2018, spending on orphan drugs will rise to $44.2 billion, or just 9.5 percent of total drug spending, the researchers projected. “The overall impact of orphan drugs on payers’ drug budgets is modest, and spending on orphan drugs as a proportion of total pharmaceutical expenditures has remained fairly stable,” the researchers said. “Concerns that growth in orphan drug expenditures may lead to unsustainable drug expenditures do not appear to be justified.”

19 clinical trials show biosimilar drugs effective for treating rheumatoid arthritis, bowel disease

A review of 19 separate clinical trials published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that biosimilar drugs were just as effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis or bowel disease as brand-name pharmaceuticals. The researchers said, “Preliminary evidence supports the biosimilarity and interchangeability of biosimilar and TNF-a inhibitors.”

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