Global spend on medicines to reach US$1.5 trillion by 2020, analysts project

Medicines on shelf

The global spend on medicines is predicted to reach US$1.5 trillion by 2020 — a rise of 33% from 2016 figures, according to a financial forecast by the QuintilesIMS Institute.

The annual rate of growth, however, is expected to fall to between 4% and 7% — down from growth in the market of around 9% between 2014 and 2015, according to the report ‘Outlook for global medicines through 2021: balancing cost and value’[1]
, published on 6 December 2016.

The growth in the market during 2014–2015 was driven mostly by new developments in treatments for hepatitis and cancer, which are projected to have less of an impact on the market between now and 2021, it says.

Most of the growth in the next five years, especially in developed markets, will be attributable to new drugs in oncology, autoimmune disease and diabetes, the report says.

A total of 45 new active substances are expected to reach the market each year until 2021, an estimate based on the 2,000 new drugs currently in late stage development, it says. These new products will address “significant unmet need” in the treatment of cancer, autoimmune disease and disorders of the nervous and metabolic systems.

While the United States will continue to be the global pharmaceutical market leader until 2021, its market growth is expected to slow in 2016 to between 6% and 7%, down from 12% in 2015 and averaging between 6% and 9% until 2021. The decline is attributable to patents expiring and the impact of the end of growth associated with new hepatitis treatments.

In the UK, the impact of Brexit will be “modest”, driving growth down by 1.5%, according to the report.

The analysis was produced by the QuintilesIMS Institute without industry or government funding as a public service.


[1] QuintilesIMS Institute. Outlook for global medicines through 2021: balancing cost and value. December 2016. Available at:

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Global spend on medicines to reach US$1.5 trillion by 2020, analysts project;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20202057

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