In local currency, the local pharmaceutical market grew by 22.5%, up to 1.99 billion lei, according to market research company, Cegedim.

The retail segment fed 23% of the market growth rate, while hospital market soared 19.3%.

“The most visible trend in the retail market is a sharp increase in prescription drugs (26.5%) and a stagnation of over-the-counter drugs which advanced by merely 9.5%. This reflects the weakening of purchase power in view of financial crisis as well as the sharp increase in prices of OTC drugs”, said Petru Craciun, managing director of Cegedim.

The biggest sales were recorded for cardiovascular medication which accounted for roughly 19.8% of overall sales, followed by digestive medications and nervous system which accounted for 13.9% and 13.6% respectively.

For 2009, Cegedim projects a slight increase in market value in lei, and decline when expressed in euro. “For this year, we expect the market to grow by 10% in local currency (between 8% and 13%) and a slight decrease of nearly 3% when expressed in euros, assuming a 4.175 lei/euro average currency exchange rate”.

Of total market value, the leading ten players occupied a market share of 52.7% and over 1 billion lei, while 20 biggest drugmakers had an aggregated share of 71.6% (1.43 bln lei).

AstraZeneca, UK’s second biggest drugmaker climbed one position up to ninth, leaving Romanian Antibiotice Iasi to tenth.

Schering Plough marked the highest climb, taking up no12 spot, from 14.

Hoffman la Roche defends its leadership position, grabbing a 7.6% share and booking 165.1 million lei in sales. The good performance of Swiss-based la Roche is primarily based on the growth of cancer-treatment medicine segment.

Second in the ranking is Sanofi-Aventis, with sales of around 136 million lei, and 7.1% market share. “Sanofi-Aventis ranks second, without taking into account the earlier Zentiva takeover. If we considered Zentiva sales book, it would lead the chart by far.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) keeps its third position in Cegedim’s ranking, with a market share of 6.8%.

Novartis lags on fourth position, the group’s sales in Romania totaling 122.2 million lei and 6.4% market share.

Servier takes up the fifth who reported sales of 116.5 million lei in first quarter and 6.5% share of local drug market.

On sixth, we find Pfizer drugmaker, who announced it paired up with its direct competitor Wyeth for 68 billion dollars.

Terapia Ranbaxy ended first quarter on seventh, posting a market share of 4.5% and 84.5 million lei in sales, Czech lagging behind it on eight with 74.5 million lei in sales and 3.7% share.

Other dug companies present in Cegedim top are Bayer Healthcare AG, Schering Plough, Menarini, KRKA D.D. Eli Lilly, Merck & Co, Johnson & Johnson, Acvatis, Solvay and Gedeon Richter.