Citing the U.S. economic downturn, this morning’s Wall Street Journal is running a longish article on the first negative growth in quarter-over-quarter (an absolute decline, not just a decrease in the prior quarter’s rate of growth) system-wide US prescription drug spending — and, especially hard-hit it seems — are preventative medicines (think Vytorin/Zetia here).
So, I think it safe to assume that the IMS Vytorin/Zetia monthly data for August 2008 (due out at any moment from Kenilworth) will show another overall cholesterol management drug market contraction, vis-a-vis July 2008. The most-salient question to be answered by that data will be — how much share will Schering have lost, in that contracting market. Let’s listen in to the WSJ — but do go read it all, here:
. . . .Americans are already cutting back on health care, a sector once thought to be invulnerable to recession. Spending on everything from doctors’ appointments to preventive tests to prescription drugs is under pressure.
The number of prescriptions filled in the U.S. fell 0.5% in the first quarter and a steeper 1.97% in the second, compared with the same periods in 2007 — the first negative quarters in at least a decade, according to data from market researcher IMS Health. Despite an aging and growing U.S. population, the number of physician office visits also has been declining since the end of 2006. Between July 2007 and 2008, the most recent month for which data are available, visits fell 1.2%, according to IMS.
As consumers cut back, spending on everything from doctors’ appointments to preventive tests to prescription drugs is under pressure. In a survey by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners last month, 22% of 686 consumers said that economy-related woes were causing them to go to the doctor less often. About 11% said they’ve scaled back on prescription drugs to save money. . . .
Should it persist, this will be an ominous trend-line for the longer term health of Americans, and consequently, the longer term cost of providing acute care to these Americans. They are either forced to skip required medication, or follow-up doctors’ visits — due to cost — and that will inexorably lead to more acute problems (read: higher overall expenses).