8 trends in pharmaceutical sales — 95.7% still through distributors

Almost all of U.S. pharmaceutical sales went through traditional pharmaceutical distributors in 2016, according to an HDA Research Foundation report.


Here are eight things to know:

1. The amount of pharmaceutical sales going through pharmaceutical distributors increased two percentage points to 95.7 percent in 2016.

2. Around 98 percent of the products distributed by the pharmaceutical distributors were prescription drugs; the remaining 2 percent were nonprescription health products.

3. The average primary pharmaceutical distributor handled around 5,100 orders per day.

4. In 2016, the average raw order fill rate for the distributors was 95.3 percent.

5. Sales for the top 20 therapeutic classes were up 81.1 percent, with diabetes therapy reporting the biggest sales growth at 17.3 percent from 2015 to 2016. Oncology products also reported huge growth, 16 percentage points, last year.

6. The largest customers for distributors were chain drug stores, which accounted for around 30 percent of all sales, however the dollar sales to independent drug stores dropped 1.1 percent.

7. Around three-fourths of the distributors use automated picking methods and 56 percent of the distributor's total capital expenditures are invested in information technology.

8. The total costs associated with returns increased to $4.7 million in 2016.

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