U.S. prescription sales through primary health care distributors edged up in 2010, and generic drugs and specialty medications accounted for a bigger share of those sales versus a year ago, according to the Healthcare Distribution and Management Association (HDMA).


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HDMA: Generic, specialty drug distribution grows

October 6th, 2011

ARLINGTON, Va. – U.S. prescription sales through primary health care distributors edged up in 2010, and generic drugs and specialty medications accounted for a bigger share of those sales versus a year ago, according to the Healthcare Distribution and Management Association (HDMA).

In announcing the release of the 2011-2012 HDMA Factbook on Thursday, the association said that prescription drug sales via primary health care distributors totaled $268 billion, or 87% of the nation's pharmaceutical sales, for 2010. That's up from about $263 billion, or 86% of prescription drug sales, as reported in HDMA's 2010-2011 Factbook. The guide is published by the Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research.

Distribution of pharmaceutical products by far represented the largest share (98%) of traditional wholesale distributors' net sales, according to the 2011-2012 Factbook. However, HDMA noted that the product mix has continued to shift.

Sales of branded pharmaceuticals, which make up 76% of total distributor sales, have declined, while sales of branded specialty pharmaceuticals have risen slightly to 13.5% of distributor sales. In addition, generic drug sales have climbed 8% since 2009, accounting for 8.3% of total distributor sales.

Those figures reflect the growth of generic drug introductions in the pharmaceutical marketplace as the industry approaches the so-called "patent cliff" — expected to start later in 2011 and peak in 2012 — as well as the ongoing growth of the specialty pharmaceutical segment, according to HDMA.

The 2011-2012 Factbook also reported that on a typical business day, HDMA-member distribution centers processed an average of 1,965 orders and delivered more than 95,000 products to pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities and other outlets nationwide in 2010, up from 1,710 orders and 91,000 products in 2009. The net profit margin for distributors in 2010 was 1.1%.

"Despite a challenging economic climate, this year's Factbook demonstrates that distributors continue to do more with less while expanding their efficiencies and accommodating more products," Karen Ribler, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Center for Healthcare Supply Chain Research, said in a statement. "It also paints a picture of the dynamic changes affecting the supply chain."

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