The Science Behind The Numbers: Exploring U.S. Pharmaceutical Statistics

Dive into U.S. pharmaceutical statistics to explore industry trends, top-selling drugs, and R&D impacts.

Published on
May 22, 2024

The Science Behind The Numbers: Exploring U.S. Pharmaceutical Statistics

Understanding Pharmaceutical Statistics

Pharmaceutical statistics encompass a wide range of data, from market overviews to revenue trends. These figures play a vital role in understanding the dynamics of the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharmaceutical Market Overview

The pharmaceutical industry is a significant global market, with sales exceeding $1.23 trillion in 2020. North America accounts for approximately 46% of these sales, demonstrating its substantial role in the industry. The industry's performance is projected to grow, with anticipated sales reaching $1.7 trillion by 2025.

An essential aspect of the pharmaceutical market is Research and Development (R&D). The industry dedicated $83 billion to R&D expenditures in 2019, reflecting a tenfold increase from the 1980s after adjusting for inflation. The share of revenues that pharmaceutical companies allocate to R&D has also risen, with about one-quarter of their revenues expended on R&D in 2019. This share is nearly double that of 2000 and surpasses other knowledge-based industries.

Revenue Trends in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Global pharmaceutical market revenue has consistently increased from 2001 to 2023. These values, reported in billions of U.S. dollars, do not include incremental spending for COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics.

In terms of R&D intensity, a measure of R&D investment relative to net revenues, the pharmaceutical industry has seen an upward trend. In the early 2000s, R&D intensity averaged about 13% each year. However, from 2005 to 2014, the industry's R&D intensity increased to an average of 18% to 20% each year. By 2018 and 2019, R&D intensity exceeded 25%, marking the highest levels since at least 2000 [2].

The cost of developing new drugs also contributes to revenue trends. The average R&D cost per new drug ranges from less than $1 billion to over $2 billion. This estimate takes into account the costs of both successful and unsuccessful laboratory research and clinical trials. As the development process often lasts over a decade without financial returns, these costs significantly impact the industry's revenues [2].

Understanding these revenue trends and the impact of R&D is essential in analyzing the U.S. pharmaceutical statistics, providing a comprehensive view of the industry's performance and progress.

Top-Selling Pharmaceuticals

In the competitive landscape of the pharmaceutical industry, a few key players and products have emerged as the top-selling pharmaceuticals. The list is dominated by vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, as well as drugs for other major health concerns such as cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Pfizer & BioNTech's Comirnaty

Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, was the best-selling pharmaceutical of 2022, jointly raking in $59.1 billion in revenue. Despite experiencing a roughly 5% drop in sales compared to the previous year, it still tops the charts [4].

Humira: A Tumor Necrosis Factor Blocker

Humira, a heavyweight tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker, was the second best-selling pharmaceutical of 2022, generating $21.2 billion in revenue. This drug is widely used in the treatment of several autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and Crohn's disease.

Merck & Co.'s Keytruda

Securing the third spot among the 50 best-selling pharmaceuticals is Merck & Co.'s cancer immunotherapy drug, Keytruda. Keytruda generated $20.9 billion in revenue in 2022. This drug has shown significant effectiveness in treating various types of cancer, including lung cancer, melanoma, and head and neck cancer [4].

Pfizer's Paxlovid

Pfizer's COVID-19 antiviral, Paxlovid, occupied the fourth position with $18.9 billion in revenue in 2022. As an oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19, Paxlovid has played a critical role in managing the pandemic, especially for those at high risk of severe illness.

Moderna's Spikevax

Rounding out the top five is Moderna's Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine, which was the fifth best-selling pharmaceutical of 2022, generating $18.4 billion in revenue. Moderna's mRNA vaccine has been instrumental in the global COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

Below is a summary of the top-selling pharmaceuticals of 2022:

Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Revenue (Billion $)
Comirnaty Pfizer & BioNTech 59.1
Humira AbbVie 21.2
Keytruda Merck & Co. 20.9
Paxlovid Pfizer 18.9
Spikevax Moderna 18.4

These figures highlight the significant role these pharmaceuticals play in the health sector, especially in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. They also underline the immense value of the pharmaceutical industry in addressing global health challenges.

Research and Development in Pharmaceuticals

In the pharmaceutical sector, research and development (R&D) plays a pivotal role in driving the invention of new drugs and treatments. This section will delve into the expenditures in the pharmaceutical industry, the impact of R&D on new drug approvals, and the cost associated with developing new drugs.

R&D Expenditures in the Pharmaceutical Industry

In 2019, the pharmaceutical industry allocated around $83 billion to R&D expenditures, a tenfold increase from the amount spent per year during the 1980s after adjusting for inflation. The share of revenues that companies in the sector devote to R&D expenses has also expanded. In 2019, about one-quarter of revenues were allocated to R&D expenses, almost double the share of revenues spent in 2000. These figures indicate a higher revenue share than other knowledge-based industries [2].

Year R&D Expenditures (billions)
1980s $8.3
2019 $83

Impact of R&D on New Drug Approvals

The number of new drugs approved each year has seen an upward trend over the past decade. From 2010 through 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an average of 38 new drugs per year, a 60 percent increase from the yearly average over the previous decade. A notable proportion of drugs approved in recent years are "specialty drugs" that target chronic, complex, or rare conditions.

Cost of Developing New Drugs

The cost of pharmaceutical R&D can be substantial, with the average R&D cost per new drug ranging from under $1 billion to over $2 billion. These estimates encompass both laboratory research and clinical trial costs for successful new drugs, as well as expenditures on drugs that do not progress past the laboratory-development stage or fail in clinical trials. The development process can often span a decade or more, during which the company does not receive a financial return on its investment in developing that drug. This underscores the significant financial risk and commitment involved in the pharmaceutical R&D process.

R&D Cost per New Drug Financial Return during Development
<$1 billion - >$2 billion None

These U.S. pharmaceutical statistics highlight the significant investment and risk involved in pharmaceutical R&D. Despite these challenges, the increase in new drug approvals indicates that the investment in R&D can lead to significant advancements in drug therapies, ultimately benefiting patients.

Prescription Drug Expenditures

The cost of prescription drugs has been a subject of intense discussion in recent years, as the rise in prices has outpaced general economic inflation. To understand this trend, it's essential to look at a few key U.S. pharmaceutical statistics.

Growth Factors in Prescription Drug Spending

Several factors are driving the growth in prescription drug expenditures. Changes in utilization, including the introduction of new drugs, and increases in unit cost or cost per dosage, are significant factors. Other elements such as delays in introducing generics, higher cost inflation in the U.S. for pharmaceuticals compared to other nations, and the compensation of numerous stakeholders in the pharmacy supply chain also contribute to rising costs. In 2016, the U.S. spent $3,337 billion, or 17.9 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), on national health expenditures, out of which $329 billion was spent on prescription drugs. Over the next decade, spending for retail prescription drugs is projected to be the fastest-growing health category and will consistently outpace that of other health spending.

Trends in Prescription Drug Costs

Nationwide spending on prescription drugs increased from $30 billion in 1980 to $335 billion in 2018. Real per capita spending on prescription drugs increased more than sevenfold over that period, from $140 to $1,073. Spending on prescription drugs increased particularly rapidly after the mid-1990s with an increase in the number of drugs that attained "blockbuster" status by generating at least $1 billion in sales annually. Per enrollee spending on prescription drugs in Medicare Part D averaged about $2,700 per year. Per enrollee spending in Medicaid increased by 20 percent from 2009 to 2018, reaching $530.

Impact of Drug Costs on Health Care

The high cost of prescription drugs can have a significant impact on health care. In 2016, approximately one in seven adults in the United States did not fill a prescription due to cost, which increases for individuals with multiple chronic conditions. Nonadherence to drug treatment protocols can lead to higher medical costs and adverse health outcomes [5].

Specialty drugs, like disease-modifying therapies for multiple sclerosis (MS), although not curative, also contribute to high costs. In a study, most disease-modifying therapies for MS exceeded the threshold of $150,000 per quality-adjusted life year (QALY). The introduction of specialty pharmacy medications significantly contributes to unit cost inflation.

Overall, the cost of prescription drugs is a significant factor in health care expenditures in the United States, affecting both patients and the overall health care system. Understanding the dynamics behind these costs can help inform policy decisions and strategies to manage these expenditures effectively.

Opioid Crisis Statistics

In the context of u.s. pharmaceutical statistics, it's important to consider the impacts of pharmaceuticals beyond just their intended uses. For instance, the opioid crisis has been a major public health issue in recent years, not just in the U.S., but also in Canada. In this section, we delve into the statistics behind opioid-related deaths, prescription opioid consumption, and regional trends in opioid-related deaths in Canada.

Opioid-Related Deaths in Canada

Opioids have had a significant impact on mortality rates in Canada. According to Health Canada, over 16,000 deaths were reported in Canada between January 2016 and March 2021 due to opioids and other substances. This data highlights the severity of Canada's overdose crisis response.

In 2016 alone, there were 2,861 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada, equivalent to eight people dying each day. This rate surpasses the average number of Canadians killed daily in motor vehicle collisions in 2015.

Prescription Opioid Consumption in Canada

Beyond the mortality rates, the consumption of prescription opioids in Canada has also been escalating. Since 1999, prescription opioid-related harms and rates of nonmedical prescription opioid use have been on the rise in the country. In 2016, over 20 million prescriptions for opioids were dispensed, making Canada the second-largest consumer of prescription opioids in the world, after the USA.

Fentanyl and its analogues are becoming more prevalent on the illegal drug market in Canada. In 2017, more than 50% of heroin samples contained fentanyl or an analogue, as did samples of methamphetamines and cocaine. The proportion of reported apparent opioid-related deaths involving fentanyl or an analogue was 53% in 2016 and appears to be on the rise.

Regional Trends in Opioid-Related Deaths

The impact of the opioid crisis varies by region within Canada. In 2016, the western provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, as well as Yukon and the Northwest Territories, had the highest rates of apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada. British Columbia reported a rate of 20.7 deaths per 100,000 population and Alberta reported a rate of 14.4 deaths per 100,000 population.

Region Opioid-Related Death Rate (per 100,000 population)
British Columbia 20.7
Alberta 14.4
Yukon N/A
Northwest Territories N/A

The opioid crisis in Canada underscores the critical importance of safe and responsible pharmaceutical practices, as well as the need for robust public health initiatives to address substance misuse and addiction. The u.s. pharmaceutical statistics outlined here provide a stark illustration of the broader impacts of pharmaceuticals on society.

Factors Influencing Pharmaceutical R&D

Exploring U.S. pharmaceutical statistics, it's important to delve into the factors influencing Research and Development (R&D) in this sector. These factors span from federal policies on R&D spending to private sector trends and the intensity of R&D in the pharmaceutical industry itself.

Federal Policies on R&D Spending

Federal policies play a significant role in R&D spending in the pharmaceutical industry. Over the years, there has been a marked increase in R&D expenditures. The industry devoted $83 billion to R&D expenditures in 2019, which is about 10 times what the industry spent per year in the 1980s, adjusted for inflation. This increase in spending aligns with the growth of the share of revenues that drug companies allocate to R&D. Approximately one-quarter of their revenues went to R&D expenses in 2019, nearly twice as large a share of revenues as spent in 2000.

Private Sector Trends in R&D

Private sector trends also significantly impact pharmaceutical R&D. The number of new drugs approved each year has grown over the past decade. On average, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 38 new drugs per year from 2010 through 2019, which is 60 percent more than the yearly average over the previous decade [2].

There has been a marked increase in private spending on pharmaceutical R&D and the approval of new drugs in recent years, resuming a decades-long trend that was interrupted in 2008 due to the availability of generic versions of some top-selling drugs and the 2007-2009 recession. Between 2015 and 2019, spending on drug R&D increased by nearly 50 percent [2].

Pharmaceutical Industry's R&D Intensity

The pharmaceutical industry's R&D intensity, a measure of the share of net revenues spent on R&D, has also seen a significant increase. In the early 2000s, R&D intensity averaged about 13 percent each year. However, over the decade from 2005 to 2014, the industry's R&D intensity averaged 18 to 20 percent each year. This upward trend continued, exceeding 25 percent in 2018 and 2019. The R&D intensities recorded by the pharmaceutical industry in recent years are the highest since at least 2000.

Understanding these influencing factors can provide insight into the direction and progression of the pharmaceutical industry, particularly in terms of new drug development and the advancement of medical technology.