Sales of drugs to treat a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer are expected to see considerable growth over the next eight years, with Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo tipped to lead the way.
The combined glioblastoma market for the US, UK, Spain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan will see a 'meteoric rise', expanding from $659m in 2014 to $3.3bn by 2024, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.
Its analyst covering oncology and haematology Maxime Bourgognon said: “Although glioblastoma is a rare disease, such high levels of unmet need in the market have created ample opportunities for players with effective therapies.
“However, developing drugs which effectively treat glioblastoma has proved exceedingly challenging to date, predominantly due to the presence of the blood-brain barrier, which prevents many drugs from entering the brain and attacking the tumour.”
GlobalData predicts that current pipeline drugs could offer a way through this, and says BMS' immunotherapy Opdivo (nivolumab) is “a particular contender to become the primary standard of care by 2024”.
First approved in 2014, BMS last year joined forces with Lilly for phase I and II studies of Opdivo and Lilly's galunisertib in advanced glioblastoma and other solid tumours.
There is also hope that Opdivo could treat patients resistant to Roche's Avastin (bevacizumab), and to that end BMS is running a phase III trial of Opdivo - on its own and in combination with BMS's own Yervoy (ipilimumab) versus Avastin.
Bourgognon added: “Immunotherapies have shown significant efficacy in other oncology indications, and as they affect the tumor microenvironment rather than directly targeting the tumour, they make attractive candidates for glioblastoma treatments.
“Currently, Avastin dominates the market, working by inhibiting angiogenesis and disrupting the blood-brain barrier, which in turn leads to tumor starvation. Patients refractory to the drug, however, have scant treatment options, and Opdivo addresses this.”
Of the seven major markets covered by GlobalData's report, the firm says Japan will see the most impressive relative growth, with sales expanding from $47m in 2014 to $268m million in 2024, driven by higher pricing for Opdivo.