The U.S. pharmaceutical industry has fared better than most sectors in 2020, but the industry still faces tailwinds, according to recent IQVIA research.
Total prescription sales are down 2.1% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2020 to date, according to an analysis of the IQVIA data by the investment bank UBS. New prescriptions are down 0.6% in the same period. Brand-name drugs, however, are up 9.3%.
The research note from UBS said the proportion of generic drugs continues to decline. Generics, however, continue to make a sizable proportion — 77.5% — of domestic drug sales.
Overall, the pharmaceutical industry is better placed than most in weathering the COVID-19 crisis. A McKinsey report from June found pharmaceuticals to be trailing only the high-tech, consumer services and healthcare supplies and distribution sectors. The sector’s prospects will likely brighten as COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics hit the market. McKinsey projects that the industry could produce 1 billion vaccine doses by the end of the year and 9 billion by the end of 2021.
In terms of the overall pharmaceutical market, the United States continues to be strong, driving more than one-third of global sales.
One bright spot called out in the UBS report is total prescriptions within Johnson & Johnson’s immunology segment (NYSE:JNJ), currently up 21.1% year over year in the U.S.
Other companies faring well include the American-Israeli pharmaceutical company Teva (NYSE:TEVA). Total prescriptions sales of the firm’s Austedo drug for tardive dyskinesia and Huntington’s disease chorea are 19.5% higher year over year. Sales of Teva’s Ajovy product for treating migraines is up 25.8%.
Another strong performer is Mylan’s Tecfidera multiple sclerosis drug, with sales up 21.9%.