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Pharmacy prescription

A market bursting with health

Estimated to be worth $602 billion in 2005, the world's pharmaceutical market is expanding at a growth rate of 7% per annum, despite modest performance in developed countries which have become more health conscious and which try to contain healthcare costs. Bolstered by an ageing population and widespread access to health care, this expansion is also based on price increases and the launch of new more expensive formulations (30 new products in 2005 and 94 blockbusters*).

The top five bestsellers in the world are three anti-cholesterol, one anti-ulcer and one anti-asthmatic medicine. This trend is expected to continue up until 2010 with an increase in worldwide consumption forecast between +5 and +8%.

The United States represents almost half of the market but with a lower growth rate than Europe (+5.2% compared to 7.1%). Sales are further boosted by emerging countries such as Russia, South Korea, and Turkey where sales of prescription medicines have increased by 15%, 20% and 54% respectively and also China which has progressed by 20% to reach an estimated market valued at around $12 billion.

A new order in pharmaceutical marketing

The exponential development cost of each new treatment, between $300 and 500 million, combined with an increasingly short life cycle for prescription medicines, has meant that new products must become profitable as quickly as possible and laboratories are thus launching them at an optimal price in as many countries as possible right from the outset, to such an extent that for equal effectiveness, it has become a criterion of differentiation at a worldwide level.

It has in fact become apparent that the issues facing the pharmaceutical market are increasingly resembling those of the consumer market. So far, the emphasis has been entirely on the medical profession, but now strategies need to take account of patients and their expectations following increased interest in self-medication, alternative medicine, and preventative health, as well as the interests of pharmacists in some countries who can make or break a new product due to their ability to replace one medicine with another. The development of Internet health sites is an example of direct to consumer advertising, and is frequently used in the United States although for the moment it remains illegal in Europe.

Contract packaging and innovation

As this market trend expands, the giants of the pharmaceutical industry are gradually withdrawing from packaging their products and instead retaining specialist pharmaceutical Contract Packers, in order to concentrate on product development. Suppliers of primary packaging, the bona fide partners of the laboratories, are the driving force for innovation at the launch of new medicines. They are led by young companies with Venture Capital backing, who focus on creating new delivery concepts which are less traumatic for the patient.

To meet the packaging demands of prescription and generic medicines in terms of high printing quality, faultless precision, of primary packaging constraints, range extensions, tamper evidence and resistance, traceability and optimised packaging costs, Sleever International has developed countless made-to-measure concepts. The world's top laboratories, such as AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Merck, have entrusted the group with their products.

* Medicines with a turnover in excess of $1 billion, the number of which is constantly growing.

Source IMS Health