Monday, March 24, 2008

Online Ads Healthy as Pharma Sales Slow

MARCH 20, 2008

Rx for sales: Web marketing.

Overall sales growth in the US prescription drug market slowed to 3.8% in 2007 from more than 8% in 2006, according to IMS Health's "US Pharmaceutical Market Performance Review."

The company said that sales growth slowed because many branded medicines lost their exclusivity, fewer new products were approved, Medicare Part D year-over-year growth leveled and safety issues slowed approval rates.

IMS said that 2007 US prescription sales totaled $286.5 billion.

"In 2007, the US pharmaceutical market experienced its lowest growth rate since 1961," said Murray Aitken, senior vice president at IMS.

IMS forecasts annual growth in US pharmaceutical of between 3% and 6% through 2012.

"In recent years IMS Health has consistently reported that emerging markets such as Brazil, China and Russia would become the growth engines for pharmaceutical companies," said Lisa Phillips, senior analyst at eMarketer.

"However, in the US, Medicare Part D is a bright spot for online pharmacies, which can offer online prescription renewals and offer all manner of other products and services to seniors who are not visiting the physical drug store as often," Ms. Phillips said.

Online advertising is a bright spot as well. eMarketer projects that annual growth in US pharmaceutical online ad spending is rising again after a dip last year, and that it will hit 28.6% in 2009.

Pharmaceutical marketers surveyed for a March 2007 Guideline-Med Ad News survey said that online ads were already more important to them than traditional media. Respondents said the trend would solidify through 2010.

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