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Drug Spending Out of Control, Record $600 Billion Spent Worldwide

Despite the global market for prescription drugs surpassing the $600 billion mark for the first time in 2005 -- Lipitor topped the list for the fifth year running at nearly $13 billion -- I remain confident my message to replace toxic, useless "one-pill-cures" with safer, healthier treatments that are just as effective may be starting to take hold.

True, aggregate sales have hit the roof worldwide, and Americans still buy the most drugs of any nation ($252 billion annually). Fact is, drug sales in America and the other nine biggest markets worldwide have slowed to less than 6 percent. (Unfortunately, sales in China, Mexico, Russia and South Korea may be making up the difference, climbing 81 percent last year.)

Another factor accounting for that slow growth: Just 30 new medicines were launched in key markets last year, according to business analysts, much of it due to increased scrutiny from venues like my Web site. But that isn't stopping the mega-drug companies from testing new drugs either. An astounding 2,300 drugs are being tested on humans right now.

The top five best-selling and largely useless drugs worldwide, according to IMS Health:

Wired News March 28, 2006

Forbes.com March 21, 2006

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