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Drug Sales Globally Continue to Increase

IMS HEALTH, a global healthcare information company, reported on August 1, 2002, an 11% growth in drug sales through retail pharmacies in 13 key markets in the 12-month period from June 2001 through May 2002, adding up to a whooping US$263 billion. IMS HEALTH is the world's leading provider of information to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. They use leading-edge technologies to transform billions of pharmaceutical records collected from thousands of sources worldwide into statistical data that can be used by drug companies to track sales.

Some interesting statistics showed that the US leads the way in drug usage growth. According to IMS Health, North America posted a 16% sales growth to $146 billion in sales in the 12 months prior to May 2002. The USA showed the highest growth at constant exchange and is the country with the highest dollar growth in their survey, for the fourth consecutive month. Comparatively sales in the top five European markets dropped 1% point, as did the sales in Japan.

By categories the largest increase was seen in drugs used for the central nervous system. According to IMS Health the biggest increase worldwide, for the 8th consecutive month, was the CNS group of products, with a sales growth of 16% to $45.3 billion. Antidepressant drugs experienced an 18 percent sales growth in 2000, to $13.4 billion which accounted for 4.2 percent of all global pharmaceutical sales. North America was the dominant user of these drugs, accounting for 74.6 percent of sales with a 19 percent growth rate. Interestingly enough, in Europe, sales fell by 1 percent, while the Africa/Asia/Australia region and Latin America, accounted for only 4.5 percent and 2.4 percent sales growth, respectively. Prozac was the leading product in the class with a market share of 21.5 percent.

With such disparities among drug sales globally, the question begs to be asked if Americans suffer from a larger variety of health issues, is there a problem with over-medication? With 74.6% of all antidepressant drugs being sold in North America, one must ask if there are truly health related issues that account for the difference, or are the numbers due to a "Quick fix" drug culture. Chiropractic has been the one profession in the health care arena that has consistently touted a drug free approach as an alternative to medication.