Pharmaceuticals: Global Sector Report 2017


  • Recurring high level of M&A activity aimed at bolstering company pipelines as an alternative to internal R&D investments
  • Competition from generic and biosimilar drugs eating away at patented drugs market shares 
  • Number of new drug launches in the US market (after an unexpected drop in 2016)
  • Growing grievances over drug “price gouging” across the world, especially in the US  

Global prescription drug sales rise for seven years

The world prescription drug market should grow a little more in 2017 than in 2016. This is due to the depreciation of the USD against other foreign currencies, especially the yen. Meanwhile, big drug makers have been struggling with governments’ tightening of cost controls and growing criticism about soaring prices of new medicines. 

The rise in cheaper generic drugs sales helps ease the financial burden on public social security schemes. But as long as drug makers cash in on their strong “pricing power” of bringing a (really) innovative drug to market, –such as Gilead’s drug Sovaldi two years ago– they will succeed in sustaining pharmaceuticals in their bullish momentum. 

As a result, political rhetoric on drug price gouging is likely to go on in 2017, particularly in the US after the latest presidential elections. Still, this year should be marked again by a few clinical advancements in oncology, especially in immuno-oncology. Besides, mergers and acquisitions should remain in the spotlight, fueled by rumors of ongoing talks between Actelion, Sanofi, and J&J to take over the Swiss biotechnology company.

Estimated at USD780Bn in 2016, we expect the global prescription drug market to rise to USD810bn in 2017.