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Demand for cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension drugs will be flat in 2009
  22 December 2008
New patient starts in three of the largest US retail prescription categories - cholesterol reduction, diabetes and hypertension - will be relatively flat in 2009, showing growth of less than 5% each, according to health care analytics firm SDI.
The indication that many patients are going without health care coverage, and sometimes their medications, "does not bode well for how many new patients will begin prescription therapy in 2009," says SDI chief operating officer John Ross. However, while demand for medications in these three therapy areas is expected to level off in 2009, it should improve from there, he adds.
The cholesterol reducer market will be of particular interest next year, in light of the November JUPITER study findings which provided evidence that AstraZeneca's Crestor (rosuvastatin) reduces heart attacks, strokes, and deaths due to cardiovascular disease in people with no signs of heart disease, says SDI. Crestor's overall US market share has increased 1 percentage point since January 2008 and, overall, the number of monthly US retail prescriptions for cholesterol-reducers nearly doubled from 9.8 million in January 2002 to 18.8 million in October 2008, says the firm, which is forecasting 3% growth in new patient therapy starts in the US for these products next year.
Turning to the diabetes market, the study notes that there are new products in the pipeline from various manufacturers, but a key question will be whether or not recent safety concerns will result in increased regulations, possibly impacting short-term performance and long-term R&D investments. The US diabetes therapy market grew 44% from 8.9 million monthly retail prescriptions in January 2002 to 12.8 million in October 2008, and SDI is projecting just 2% growth in new patient therapy starts in this market next year.
The report also points to the findings from the Kaiser Family Foundation's most recent Health Tracking Poll in October, which revealed that 47% of the public reported that they or a family member had, because of cost issues, failed to fill a doctor's prescription, skipped a recommended medical test or treatment, cut pills or skipped doses of medicine or had had problems getting mental health care, compared with 42% in April.
And last week, another study found that nearly 40 million US adults failed to fill a prescription in the past year because of cost. The survey, by Manhattan Research, reported that women and patients with neurological and mental health conditions were the most likely to give up their medication because of cost problems.

Millions more could benefit from statin therapy - US study

14 January 2009
A new study is claiming that more than 11 million older Americans may be newly eligible for statin therapy if findings from the recently-published JUPITER trial of AstraZeneca's cholesterol drug Crestor are adopted into clinical practice guidelines.
The analysis, is published online in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes used data from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers found that 33.5 million older Americans (men aged 50 and older and women aged 60 plus) are currently taking a statin (24.4%). They have risks that would indicate a need for statin therapy based on current guidelines but do not take a statin (33.5%).
The study estimated that an additional 19.2% of older adults could be considered eligible for statin therapy based on their matching the inclusion criteria used in JUPITER, the data from which showed that Crestor (rosuvastatin) dramatically cut deaths, heart attacks and strokes in patients who had healthy cholesterol levels but high levels of C-reactive protein which is associated with heart disease.
The study's lead author, Erica Spatz of Yale University, said that "based on our analysis, more than 44.7 million older Americans might have an indication for statin therapy when you consider those who already meet current guidelines..and those who might be eligible based on the criteria proposed in JUPITER". She added that "that's nearly 80% of this segment of the population who could potentially be recommended a statin therapy if those criteria were adopted into guidelines."
American Heart Association president Timothy Gardner said that "certainly the JUPITER findings were intriguing and they will be evaluated as any future revisions are considered for treatment guidelines for reducing cardiovascular risk." He added that this additional analysis provides useful information about how many individuals would meet the JUPITER inclusion criteria but "a more in-depth study of further implications, including cost-analysis, will be critical in future decision-making processes about preventive measures for the population as a whole".
He concluded by saying that "clearly, as a nation, we are not adequately reducing the risk of those who, even under current guidelines, already need statin treatment but are not receiving it. Determining the most effective ways to do that is paramount."

Up to 800 research jobs to be cut as Pfizer refocuses
14 January 2009
Pfizer has announced plans to cut its global research staff by 5%-8% as part of a "very clear strategy" of "dramatically raising the bar on productivity".
The New York-based drugs giant has told PharmaTimes World News that over the next several months, it will make the cuts at its sites globally to "better align our colleague base with our refocused research efforts". The reductions will take place at Pfizer's facilities in Groton, Connecticut, St Louis, La Jolla, California, and Sandwich, UK.
The company is now focusing on six areas - oncology, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, pain, inflammation and diabetes. These are areas "that have the highest probability of success", Pfizer says, as they "address an unmet medical need and have high market growth potential."
Pfizer went on to say that it "does not make these decisions lightly" and everyone affected "will be treated with utmost respect and will be offered appropriate financial, professional and personal support". However the moves are necessary, the firm adds, as it is aims at "aggressively delivering the Phase II and Phase III portfolio".
Speaking at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, Martin Mackay, head of Pfizer R&D, said that by announcing the job cuts, "we haven't taken any hit on productivity. We haven't missed any milestones." He added that Pfizer plans to seek US regulatory approval for 15 to 20 drugs from 2010 to 2012 and will have as many as 28 drugs in Phase III this year, three times the number in 2005.
Dr Mackay also revealed that Pfizer is looking to sell off about 100 investigational drugs that now fall outside its focus areas. These cover treatments for obesity and cholesterol.
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