MERCK MEVACOR U.S. RETAIL PHARMACY SALES UP 67% TO $304 MIL. IN 1989; PROZAC GAINING ON TRICYCLICS AND ANTIDEPRESSANT COMBOS WITH 37% SHARE
U.S. retail pharmacy sales of MS&D's Mevacor jumped 67% in 1989 to $304 mil., giving lovastatin a commanding share of the$544 mil. anti-lipemic market. Sales of the cholesterol-lowering agent in 1988 were $182 mil., according to the latest marketing data from Pharmaceutical Data Services. The anti-lipemic U.S. retail market accounted for 15.1 mil. prescriptions dispensed in 1989, up a sizeable 32% from 1988, when cholesterol-lowering agents accounted for 11.4 mil. scripts. The market, in terms of total sales, grew 48% from $374 mil. in 1988 to $554 mil. last year, PDS VP Michael Ira Smith reported March 16 at the market data firm's annual pharmaceutical industry review in New York City. Mevacor dominated the anti-lipemic drug market both in terms of the number of prescriptions dispensed (41%, or about 6.2 mil.) and total retail pharmacy sales (a 55% share). The sharp jump in Mevacor sales put the drug in sixth place among all prescription drugs sold in the U.S. last year, according to PDS data. In 1988, Mevacor sales placed the drug 13th overall. [EDITORS' NOTE: PDS measures sales to end users. As a result, PDS figures are often lower than the product figures reported by pharmaceutical companies.] Although Mevacor gobbled up much of the cholesterol market, Warner-Lambert's Lopid (gemfibrozil) held its share of the rapidly expanding market. Lopid emerged from 1989 with a 30% share of the 15.1 mil. scripts (about 4.4 mil.), and 24% of sales (approximately $133 mil. calculated from PDS figures). Lopid's performance compares to sales which were around $89.8 mil. in 1988. Lopid's congressionally-sanctioned patent extension began in 1989. While some Wall Street analysts have been unenthused by Lopid's performance, Smith noted that it is "to its credit" that the drug kept pace in the much bigger anti-cholesterol market, particularly with the strong Mevacor showing. * Sharing the rest of the $554 mil. in sales category with Mevacor and Lopid were (in descending order of share): Bristol-Myers Squibb's Questran and Questran Light; Marion Merrell Dow's Lorelco; Upjohn's Colestid and 2% "other." Questran sales, as reported by PDS, were $58.2 mil. in 1989, or 12% of the U.S. retail market for anti-lipemic drugs, and the drug was responsible for 18% (about 2.7 mil.) of the 15.1 mil. scripts filled in the category. Lorelco retail revenues were$33.1 mil.; the Marion Merrell Dow product accounted for 6% of sales and 7% (1.1 mil.) of scripts. Colestid had 3% of scripts (roughly 453,000) and represented 2% of category sales (or about$11.1 mil.). Mevacor was Merck's second prescription drug in the PDS "Top 10" of drugs in the 1989 U.S. retail pharmacy sales market, which totaled $19.3 bil. The ACE inhibitor Vasotec (enalapril) jumped from the 10th spot in 1988 to number four with a 28% sales increase to $313 mil., according to PDS. Lilly's serotonin re-uptake inhibitor fluoxetine (Prozac) continues to gain on the tricyclic and antidepressant combos, Smith said. While Prozac did not make the "Top 10," the drug did pull in sales of approximately $228 mil., based on PDS figures which give the drug a 37% share of the $616 mil. antidepressant retail market in the U.S. The category, which Smith noted, includes only those drugs "clearly labeled" as antidepressants, grew from 38 mil. to 40 mil. scripts in 1989, with Prozac adding 9% to take a 15% (roughly 6 mil. scripts) share. The drug was approved in December 1987. PDS' Smith pointed out that the services' data cannot determine how much of the Prozac prescriptions being filled are for anti-obesity usage. An NDA is pending at FDA for Prozac for that indication but anecdotal evidence suggests that the drug is already fairly widely prescribed in some geographic areas for weight reduction.
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