Lab technicians work at Amneal Pharmaceuticals' South Yaphank plant on...

Lab technicians work at Amneal Pharmaceuticals' South Yaphank plant on Nov.13, 2013. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Some drugmakers on Long Island would likely benefit under a new forecast of increased global demand for generic prescription medicines.

The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, an independent research organization, Tuesday predicted spending on brand-name prescription drugs around the world will fall to its lowest rate in decades, with low-cost generics continuing to replace former blockbusters in the United States and Europe.

Generic prescription medicines will grow to become more than 36 percent of global sales by 2017, according to IMS. Currently generics make up about 27 percent of the global market.

Such demand has led to a building boom in Suffolk County.

Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC is constructing a $100-million addition to its South Yaphank factory and hiring 400 more workers. Top executive Chintu Patel said the company's products are used to fill 5 percent of all U.S. prescriptions.

"We have 15 to 20 drugs awaiting approval" from the federal Food and Drug Administration, he said last week. "We're growing and hope to truly become an international company in the next three years."

Another local manufacturer, Hi-Tech Pharmacal Co., recently enlarged one of six buildings in Amityville and purchased another in Copiague. The $50-million project added about 110 people to Hi-Tech's payroll of 290.

In August, Hi-Tech agreed to be purchased by Illinois-based Akorn Inc. for $640 million.

IMS predicted the global prescription drug market, including generic and brand-name products, will grow by 3 percent to 6 percent over the next four years to $1.2 trillion. That compares to a growth rate of 5.4 percent in the last four-year period.

In the United States the prescription drug market will actually shrink 1.2 percent in 2013, continuing a multiyear trend that has seen patents expire on many iconic blockbuster drugs, including the anti-clotting drug Plavix last year, which was once the world's second bestselling drug.

Growth is expected to slowly resume in 2014 and beyond with the expansion of health care coverage under the Obama administration's health care overhaul, IMS predicted.

Growth in Europe through 2017 is expected to be flat to up 3 percent as governments there implement new austerity measures designed to restrain spending on brand-name drugs.

The IMS forecast noted that drugmakers continue to develop a steady stream of new products, though research has shifted from blockbuster treatments for common diseases to niche drugs for rare diseases and small patient populations.

With AP

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