Study: Mail-order Pharmaceutical Sales Grew 19 Percent in 1998

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Market research and medical information company IMS Health reported yesterday that mail-order sales of pharmaceutical products rose by 19 percent in 1998, to $11.2 billion, compared with sales from the preceding year. The results were reported in IMS Health's Market Segment Report, which is based on sales volume of both prescription and over-the-counter medications through all major channels.

Merck & Co. remained the top seller of mail-order drugs, according to the study, tallying $1.57 billion in sales, up 6 percent over mail-order sales of $1.48 billion in 1997. Pfizer followed with $687 million in mail-order sales, up about 15 percent from sales of $598 million in 1997. Rounding out the top 10 in 1998 mail-order sales were Warner-Lambert, $674 million; Bristol-Myers Squibb, $621 million; Astra, $606 million; Novartis, $567 million; American Home, $562 million; Lilly, $546 million; Schering-Plough, $539 million; and Glaxo-Wellcome, $521 million.

IMS Health attributed the growth in mail-order sales to a push by managed-care plans to have their patients fill prescriptions for chronic conditions through mail order. The company said it expected the growth to continue as new technologies emerge that make it even easier for customers to purchase medicines by mail.

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