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Biotech to bolster industry growth

Biotech products will account for the top six biggest selling drugs globally by 2014, according to a new report

By 2014, six of the world's biggest selling drugs will be biotech products, highlighting the importance of these products as growth drivers for the pharma industry as it grapples with a plethora of small molecule patent expiries.

Recent analysis from EvaluatePharma in its report, World Preview 2014, reveals that biotech drugs will account for 50 per cent of the top 100 drugs in 2014 compared to just 28 per cent in 2008 and 11 per cent in 2000.

Although the patent life for the majority of these blockbuster biotech products extends well beyond the patent cliff for conventional drugs, these facts illustrate the huge significance of the ongoing debate over a regulatory pathway for biosimilars in the US.

In its report, EvaluatePharma, which pools consensus sales forecasts from industry estimates, states that despite several setbacks, by 2014 Roche's cancer antibody Avastin would be the number one best-selling drug with revenues of $9.23bn.

Just behind Avastin is Abbott Laboratories' anti-rheumatic antibody Humira with forecast sales of $9.13bn. However, with analysts yet to assess fully the impact of trial setbacks for adjuvant use of Avastin in the treatment of colon cancer, Humira could still claim the top spot.

Roche has another two drugs in the top six: Rituxan and Herceptin. Other top-performing drugs include Enbrel (Wyeth, Amgen, Takeda) and Lantus (sanofi-aventis).

Five of the top-selling products will be antibodies, three of which are specifically anti-cancer agents, illustrating the importance of this technology to the pharma industry, which is only now reaping the rewards of decades of hard work.

The figures reveal a dramatic change of fortune for biotech products. In 2008, four of the top five selling drugs were small molecule products, dominated by Lipitor with sales of $13.5bn – Avastin scraped tenth place. In 2000 there was just one biotech drug, Epogen (Amgen) in the top 10 biggest selling products, and cholesterol-lowering treatments occupied three of top six places.

According to the report, the higher value products are seeing a shift towards biotech, yet data also suggest that in overall terms, small molecule drugs would still account for the bulk of the pharmaceutical market, generating revenues of $406bn, compared to $169bn for biotech products. However, these figures do not detract from the fact that biotech products are a growth driver for the pharma industry, not only for developing innovative medicines but also in launching biosimilars.


 

18th June 2009

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