The U.S. pharmaceutical market dipped 4.1% year-over-year in the most recent quarter-to-date figures, according to recent IQVIA research. New prescription sales fell 4.4%.
Brand-name drug sales, however, saw a modest growth rate of 1.8% while generic drug sales, which made up 80% of all sales, fell 4.5% in the quarter.
One bright spot in the most-recent quarter’s numbers is Johnson & Johnson’s (NYSE: JNJ) immunology segment. New prescription sales from the division were up 21.1%. Strong performers included dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera), a multiple sclerosis therapy whose sales were up 23.4%. New prescription sales were even higher — up 47.7% — for the company’s fremanezumab-vfrm (Ajovy) migraine drug.
The overall dip in drug sales comes as the COVID-19 crisis gains momentum in the U.S. and elsewhere, sickening at least 18 million people. According to an assessment from the Economist, the novel coronavirus may have already infected nearly one in five Americans.
The COVID-19 pandemic could, however, provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the pharma industry to rebrand itself. The industry is already getting credit for “saving the world,” as Bloomberg recently concluded. COVID-19 vaccines alone could “prevent hundreds of thousands of American deaths and millions more around the world,” that publication concluded.