Central Nervous System Drug Market


The central nervous system drug industry is the second largest therapeutic industry, accounting for a total market value of US $56 billion. Central nervous system drugs comprise of group of those drugs for producing both psychological and physiological effects through different types of mechanisms. Out of the whole central nervous system drugs market; antidepressants, antipsychotics and anti epileptics are the largest segments having a market share of 25%, 25% and 14 % respectively.

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2006 CNS Drug Market breakdown[1]


Antipsychotics are central nervous system therapies used to treat diseases such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Patients with schizophrenia may hear "voices" or have strange thoughts that are "out of touch" with reality that can hamper their ability to carry out normal day-to-day life.[2] Patients with bipolar disorder are characterized by mood changes that cycle between "high" manic moments and "low" depression moments.[3] Together, the antipsychotic and antimaniac drug markets represent approximately 5 million people and generated revenues of $17.4 billion in 2008, a decline of 4% from 2007 largely driven by increased competition from lower priced generic drugs.[4]

The major players in the antipsychotics market include AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and GlaxoSmithKline. Eli Lilly's Zyprexa has the largest market share of the market, at 26% ($4.70 billion), while AstraZeneca's Seroquel, at 2nd place ($4.45 billion) remains the most widely prescribed antipsychotic.[5] Bristol-Myers Squibb's Abilify, which was approved for market release in 2007, saw a 30% growth in sales from 2007 to 2008 to $2.15 billion, making it the fastest growing therapeutic in the antipsychotics market. Moreover, data that Abilify may carry less of a risk for weight gain and diabetes than the incumbent therapies is driving its push for increased market share.[6]

The antipsychotic drug market is treatened by loss of exclusivity from patent expirations. By 2012, four of the six largest antipsychotic therapies will lose their patents and see revenues decreased by generic competition.[7] However, this threat to market size may be offset if Abilify and other novel antipsychotic therapies are shown to carry reduced risks for weight gain and diabetes.

Antipsychotics Market Share by Revenue, 2008
Rank Market Share Company Product Revenue ($ billion) Growth
1 27% Eli Lilly Zyprexa 4.70 (-1%)
2 26% AstraZeneca Seroquel 4.45 9%
3 22% Johnson & Johnson Risperdal 3.8 (-24%)
4 12% Bristol-Meyers Squibb Abilify 2.15 30%
5 7% GlaxoSmithKline Lamictal 1.27 (-16%)
6 6% Pfizer Geodon 1.01 18%


Antidepressants are central nervous system therapies used to treat diseases such as major depressive disorder (MDD), dysthymic disorder, and seasonal affective disorder. MDD is a condition that lasts 2 weeks or more, and interferes with a person’s ability to carry on daily tasks and enjoy activities that previously brought pleasure. [8] Depression affects an estimated 121 million people worldwide,[9] and the antidepressant market to treat depression generated revenues of almost $11 billion in 2008.

The major players in the antidepressant market include Eli Lilly, Forest Laboratories, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Schering-Plough, and Wyeth. Wyeth's Effexor holds the largest market share in the antidepressants market, at 36% ($3.93 billion), while Eli Lilly's Cymbalta exhibited the largest growth in sales: 29% from $2.1 billion in 2007 to $2.7 billion in 2008.

While there are several antidepressant drugs in the pipeline, patent expiration threaten the size of the market. By 2014, over $5 billion worth of drugs will be off patent, enabling the entrance of cheaper, generic versions in the market. However, direct-to-consumer advertising is a substantial factor in the antidepressant drug market, and will influence the extent to which competitors capture the market.[10]

Antidepressants Market Share by Revenue, 2007
Rank Market Share Company Product Revenue ($ billion) Growth
1 36.1% Wyeth Effexor 3.93 3.7%
2 24.8% Eli Lilly Cymbalta 2.7 28.6%
3 21.1% Forest Laboratories Lexapro 2.29 9%
4 10.8% GlaxoSmithKline Paxil, Wellbutrin 1.17 (-21%)
5 5% Pfizer Zoloft 0.54 1.5%
6 2.2% Schering-Plough Remeron 0.24 N/A


Antiepileptics are therapies designed to treat patients with epilepsy, a brain disorder in which clusters of nerve cells signal abnormally, which can lead to seizures.[11] Epilepsy affects approximately 2.5 million people in the United States, and results in an estimated annual cost of $15.5 billion in healthcare.[12] Epilepsy can be treated through both surgical and pharmaceutical intervention,[13] and the market for pharmaceutical treatment of epilepsy generated $12 billion in 2008.

The major players in the antiepileptic market include Abbott Laboratories, Cephalon, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis AG, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis SA, Shire, and UCB Pharma. Pfizer maintains the largest market share in the antiepileptics market with 26% for its two products, Lyrica and Neurontin ($2.96 billion combined sales in 2008). Pfizer's antiepileptic products are also growing at the fastest rate among major competitors, with a sales growth of 31% from 2007 to 2008.

Antiepileptics Market Share by Revenue, 2008
Rank Market Share Company Product Revenue ($ billion) Growth
1 26.1% Pfizer Lyrica, Neurontin 2.96 31%
2 23.8% Johnson & Johnson Topamax 2.7 11%
3 15.3% UCB Pharma Keppra 1.74 23%
4 11.5% Abbott Depakote 1.3 (-13%)
5 11.2% GSK Lamictal 1.27 (-16%)
6 6.9% Novartis Tegretol, Trileptal 0.78 (-29%)
7 4% Sanofi Aventis Depakine 0.45 4%
8 0.7% Shire Carbatrol 0.08 5%
9 0.5% Cephalon Gabitril 0.06 6%




Alzheimer's Disease

Movement Disorders


  1. The World Market for Psychotherapeutic Drugs. Kalorama, January 2007
  2. National Institutes of Health: Antipsychotic medications
  3. National Institutes of Health: Antimanic Medications
  4. The Antipsychotics Market Insight & Analysis 2008. Visiongain.
  5. AstraZeneca 2008 10-K Annual Report, p.57
  6. National Alliance on Mental Illness: Abilify Profile
  7. FDA Orange Book
  8. National Institutes of Health: Antidepressant Medications
  9. World Health Organization - Depression
  10. MIWatch.org: Depression, advertising and pharma
  11. NINDS Epilepsy Information Page
  12. http://www.cdc.gov/epilepsy/ CDC: Epilepsy]
  13. NINDS Epilepsy Information Page
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