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However, after that, the ongoing decline in the number of major new brand-name drugs being approved will mean fewer new generics.
Generics generated $78 billion in revenue in the 26 countries with the highest sales in the year ending in September, an increase of only 3.6 percent over the prior year, according to IMS. The $70 billion total does not include sales at Wal-Mart, which does not disclose such data. Revenue had been climbing by double digits for several years and jumped 11.4 percent in 2007.
The report noted U.S. generic sales dipped from $34 billion in 2007 to $33 billion in the year ending in September, when generic drugs accounted for nearly 64 percent of all prescriptions filled.
Among other major markets, revenue from generic drugs also declined in the U.K., driven by pricing pressure from its national health system, but increased by double digits in France, Italy, Japan and Spain.
IMS expects what Aitken called "seismic change" in the global generics industry over the next decade, as the pricing pressures lead to more small generic manufacturers whose profit margins are being squeezed now being acquired by the dominant players. Meanwhile, more of those big companies are branching out into developing brand-name drugs, more brand-name companies trying to compensate for slow growth are making their own generics, and generic versions of biotech drugs -- not yet allowed in this country -- are expected to become more common, expanding the generic market.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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