The pharmaceutical sector is one of the leading industries in the world and ranges from pharmacies and drug stores, para-pharmacies, drug manufacturers and National Drug Control Agencies such as the FDA in the States. These players cover the production, distribution and control of all medicines to be found on the market; including those for veterinary uses.
Activity is mainly concerned with the search for, development and sale of those drugs used by medical professionals. The process covers the identification of active ingredients, their testing and the carrying out of clinical tests to comply with approval regulations. Once approved the manufacturers start the production and sale of the drugs in question.
Despite a sector-wide growth of around 4% a year, the pharmaceutical industry is not in the best of health. This malaise is due to longer life spans and medical advances that barely cover the deflationary pressures in the market.
First world manufacturers are facing competition from generics, a market which is fuelled by demand from the middle classes in emerging economies wish to have access to cheap effective medicines. They are also faced with the expiry of patents and their being surpassed by newer and more effective drugs.
Worldwide the industry grew by 8’8% to reach a total of $1,000 million. According to a study published by the IMS Health, industry growth should be between 4 and 7% up till 2018 and will be fuelled by sales in the BRIC and other emerging economies with increases of over 10% whilst growth in mature economies will only be 1 to 4%.
New countries such as Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Colombia and South Africa are appearing on the pharmaceutical world stage. According to Vicent Bildstein of IMS Health France, these emerging economies display a relatively steady growth and, very often, develop public health plans to favour the poorer classes. On the other hand, growth in the West will be weak except for Germany with a rate of 4%.
The pharmaceutical industry is considered to be one of the most innovative and is making considerable progress in anti-cancer and the treatment of auto-immune diseases, diabetes vaccinations and antiviral drugs.
The current market for pharmaceuticals is around $1,000 million a year, a large part of which is accounted for by 15 drugs which have been launched on to the market recently.