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Prescription Drugs Market Size, Share & Industry Analysis, By Product Type (Generics, Orphan, and Other Prescription Drugs), By Therapy (Oncology, Anti-diabetics, Vaccines, Sensory Organs, Immunosuppressants, Anticoagulants, and Others), By Distribution Channel (Hospital Pharmacies, Retail Pharmacies & Drug Stores, and Online Pharmacies), and Regional Forecast, 2019-2026

Region : Global | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI102709



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The global prescription drugs market size stood at USD 811.00 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach USD 1,562.15 billion by 2026, exhibiting a CAGR of 8.9% during the forecast period.

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These drugs comprise of various types of vaccines and therapies for the treatment and management of chronic and acute diseases. These disorders include types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and also orphan disease. In a modern clinical scenario, administration of appropriate prescription drugs is critical for better clinical outcomes of almost every patient suffering from serious disorders. Many market players are engaged in clinical trials for the development of new products for a wide range of diseases, but the prescription drugs scenario itself has undergone profound changes with an increasing influx of generic equivalents.


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Increasing Presence of Pipeline Candidates in Various Therapy Areas to Augment Market Growth 

In the prescription drugs market, the increasing R&D investments by prominent companies for the development of new drugs is one of the main key trend. This is primarily because in the global scenario there has been an increasing prevalence of several chronic disorders. This has led to increasing demand from patients due to their unmet clinical needs and a demand for positive clinical outcomes. A number of these chronic disorders are often refractory in nature and thus, require administration of aggressive prescribed therapies. This has led major pharmaceutical companies to be constantly engaged in clinical trials for the development, and ultimately the approvals of new product. An increasing number of key manufacturers are shifting their focus towards developing drugs to treat rare diseases. This is projected to further propel the market growth of these drugs during the forecast period.


Increasing Launch of Generic Equivalents of Key Prescription Drugs to Fuel Demand

One of the critical market drivers of the global prescription drugs market is the increasing launches of the generic equivalents of several key drugs in strong markets such as the United States. The increasing adoption of these generic equivalents is especially due to the fact that these generics are often as efficient as their original counterparts and can often be adopted by patients at a fraction of the costs. Patients without the access to expensive prescription products due to financial hurdles can often adopt these drugs and experience better clinical outcomes. In October 2019, the U.S. FDA announced that they had given 1,171 generic drug approvals out of which 935 were full approvals and 236 were tentative approvals. The U.S. FDA particularly approved these generic equivalents to improve drug competition, and to also encourage the increasing adoption of these low-cost drug equivalents.

This is especially critical for patients in the emerging markets and also patients in the developed countries who do not have access to appropriate payment plans for prescription medicines. Factors as such are anticipated to drive the global market growth during the forecast period.

Increasing Developments of Orphan Drugs Drive the Market Growth

One of the key market driving factors prevailing in the prescription drugs market is the increasing R&D investments by prominent companies for the development of drugs for orphan diseases. A prime example of such a strategic move by a market player includes BioMarin, a key pharmaceutical company involved in the development of rare diseases’ therapies. BioMarin’s product portfolio includes several orphan drugs such as the mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS) group of disorders and the company also has strong orphan drug pipeline candidates in various stages of clinical trials. This increasing initiatives into rare diseases’ therapies are attributable to the fact that the development of blockbuster drugs is more possible in orphan diseases as compared to the already mature markets of other traditional diseases such as cardiovascular and diabetes. The above factors combined with the need for efficient therapeutics for severely debilitating rare diseases is further projected to fuel the demand for these type of prescription products and boost the market growth globally. 


High Costs Associated with Some Prescription Drugs to Limit the Market Growth

Despite increasing incidence of critical diseases such as cancers, and cardiovascular diseases globally, and higher prevalence of these conditions in developing regions such as Africa, Latin America and Asia, there are certain factors that are restraining the adoption of products. One of the major factors restraining the growth of the market is the high costs associated with numerous prescription drugs. This has led to a small number of patients adopting these drugs, and a significant proportion of these patients face financial hurdles during the usage of these products. In many instances, these prescription drugs costs can lie in the range of US$ 100,000-500,000, and the conditions are not even curative in nature. For instance, Abiraterone used in the treatment of prostate cancer can cost the patient US$ 10,000 per month at its lowest and not even cure the disease. Restraining factors as such as anticipated to limit the market growth during the forecast period.


By Product Type Analysis

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Generics Dominated the Global Market

Based on product type, the global market is segmented into generics, orphan and other. A number of new drugs launched every year fall under several categories such as biologics and often do not have generic equivalents of them launched in the near future. Hence, the other prescription drugs segment dominated the market share in 2018. The other segment contains critical and life-saving drugs such as oncology, anti-diabetic and cardiovascular drugs and have been instrumental in the dominance of this segment in the global market.

The orphan segment is anticipated to grow at a comparatively higher CAGR. The increasing clinical trials for the development of orphan drugs is anticipated to take place during the forecast period and drive the prescription drugs market growth during the forecast period. Also, a number of product launches of generic equivalents during the forecast period is anticipated to drive the generics segment.

By Therapy Analysis

Clinically Proven Effectiveness of Oncology Therapeutics in Hunter Syndrome to Aid Dominance of the Segment

In terms of therapy, the market is segmented into oncology, anti-diabetics, vaccines, sensory organs, immunosuppressants, anticoagulants, and others. The oncology segment is anticipated to dominate the therapy segment, due to the increasing prevalence of cancer, and the high costs attributed to the treatment of the various forms of cancer. The anti-diabetics segment is also anticipated to exhibit steady growth during the forecast period due to the increasing prevalence of diabetes, and other lifestyle associated diseases. The increasing population is also expected to aid the growth of the vaccines segment due to the increasing need for timely vaccinations especially in infants, and children. The increasing prevalence of cardiovascular diseases is also anticipated to drive the anticoagulants segment. Increasing organ transplants procedures is also anticipated to drive the growth of the immunosuppressants segments.

The increasing prevalence of ophthalmic diseases such as dry eye syndrome, is expected to drive the growth of the sensory organs segment during the forecast period.

By Distribution Channel Analysis

Hospital Pharmacies is Anticipated to Dominate the Global Market

In terms of distribution channel, the market is segmented into retail pharmacies, hospital pharmacies & drug stores, and online pharmacies. Some of the key reasons for the dominance of hospital pharmacies segment is that the therapeutics indicated under prescription drugs can often be only prescribed in hospital settings under the guidance of trained medical professionals. Also, a number of therapeutics used in the treatment of critical diseases such as cancers, and orphan diseases can only be administered intravenously by trained medical professionals. Such effective administration of therapeutics often allows for the appropriate treatment and management of critical diseases, leading to improved clinical outcomes.

Growing number of availabilities of over the counter drugs, along with the growing need for daily medications such as anti-diabetics, are some of the major factors responsible for growth of this segment in the forecast period. 

Online pharmacies are anticipated to grow at the highest CAGR, especially due to the ease provided to patients in the refilling of prescription medications, and the ability to acquire drugs from the comfort of their homes.


North America Prescription Drugs Market Size, 2018 (USD Billion)

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The market size in North America stood at USD 396.58 billion in 2018. Some of the prominent reasons for the dominance of North America in the global market included the increasing demand for efficient and advanced products in the region especially due to the high prevalence of several chronic diseases. These factors, along with high healthcare expenditure, strong and robust R&D for drugs in the region and presence of prominent companies in the region involved in the product of generic equivalents of key drugs, are responsible for dominant share of the region in the global market. The market in Europe accounted for the second largest share in the global market and reasons for the region’s strong market share includes increased demand for advanced prescription product and the product launches of efficient prescription products including orphan drugs. Asia-Pacific is projected to register reasonably higher CAGR during the forecast period. New launches of key products in the region, and the strong demand for prescription drugs are anticipated to drive the market during 2019-2026. The presence of a large potential patient population, and the growing awareness of chronic and serious disorders amongst individuals leading to increased healthcare expenditure are projected to drive the market growth in Asia Pacific during forecast period. The rest of the world market comprises of Latin America and the Middle East & Africa and is currently in a stage of growth. Increasing use of advanced prescription products and increasing healthcare expenditure is projected to fuel the market growth during forecast period.


Strong and Diversified Product Portfolio of Novartis and Pfizer, to Help these Companies Retain a Leading Position

The overall competition landscape of prescription drugs market depicts a competition structure where there is a presence of a large number of prominent market players. But, two major companies: Novartis and Pfizer, with their strong and diverse product portfolio, and presence in key therapeutic areas such as oncology and vaccines, are prominent reasons responsible for the dominance of these companies.

Despite that, a number of other prominent players such as Roche, Johnson & Johnson, and Sanofi also have strong market revenue shares in the global market. A number of companies producing generic equivalents of many drugs such as Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., and Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. are also expected to launch a number of products in the forecast period. This is projected to positively impact the global market as these companies are expected to gain market share during the forecast period.



  • April 2020 – Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Inc., announced the launch of the generic drug, Mycophenolic acid delayed-release tablets used for the prevention of the organ rejection in kidney transplant patients in the United States.

  • March 2020 – Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. announced the launch of the generic equivalent of Geodon (Ziprasidone Mesylate) injection, a drug used for schizophrenia patients in the United States.

  • February 2020 – Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. announced the launch of the generic equivalent of Vimovo (naproxen and esomeprazole magnesium), a drug used for inflammation in the United States.


An Infographic Representation of Prescription Drugs Market

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The prescription drugs market report provides a thorough analysis of the market and focuses on key features such as prevalence of key diseases - by key countries - 2018, pipeline analysis, key industry developments, new product approvals and regulatory scenario - by key regions. Also, the report offers insights into the market trends and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the above-mentioned factors, the report includes numerous factors that have contributed to the growth of the market over the recent years.

Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period



  Value (USD billion)


By Product Type

  • Generics

  • Orphan

  • Other Prescription Drugs

By Therapy

  • Oncology

  • Anti-diabetics

  • Vaccines

  • Sensory Organs

  • Immunosuppressants

  • Anticoagulants

  • Others

By Distribution Channel

  • Hospital Pharmacies

  • Retail Pharmacies & Drug Stores

  • Online Pharmacies

By Geography

  • North America (U.S. and Canada)

  • Europe (U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia, and Rest of Europe)

  • Asia-Pacific (Japan, China, India, Australia, Southeast Asia, and Rest of Asia-Pacific)

  • Latin America (Brazil, Mexico, and the Rest of Latin America)

  • The Middle East & Africa (South Africa, GCC, and the Rest of Middle East & Africa)

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 811.00 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach USD 1,562.15 billion by 2026.

In 2018, the market value stood at USD 811.00 billion.

Growing at a CAGR of 8.9%, the market will exhibit steady growth in the forecast period (2019-2026).

Other prescription drugs segment is expected to be the leading segment in this market during the forecast period.

Anticipated introduction of innovative prescription drugs in the market due to increased prevalence of chronic and serious diseases, coupled with significant unmet clinical need, is fueling the market demand for these drugs.

Novartis AG and Pfizer, Inc. are the leading players in the global market.

Increasing product launches in generic drugs and increasing clinical trials by market players in orphan drugs is anticipated to drive the adoption of these drugs in the global market.

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