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PD-1 cancer market overrated, says new report

The immuno-oncology market for new oncology drugs may be worth half of current expectations

 Merck's Keytruda

A new report by a US research and analyst firm has found that the sales potential of the new PD-1 cancer market is too optimistic and needs to be downgraded.

Former Nomura analyst Amit Roy, who now runs independent research firm Foveal, thinks sales of drugs inhibiting Programmed Death receptor (PD-1 and PDL-1), will not bring in the numbers being touted by other analysts.

Roy said in a report published this week: “We conclude that the global anti-PD-1/PD-L1 market is worth an un-risk-adjusted $10bn a year, materially less than the optimistic (in our view) $20-30bn forecasts in the market today.”

Most of big pharma is betting on the PD-1 market being worth $30bn, with Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck & Co both having new drugs on the market with this mechanism of action, with Roche and AstraZeneca having PD-1 medicines in their late-stage pipelines.

BMS is seen as leading the pack with its melanoma and lung cancer drug Opdivo (nivolumab), but Merck beat it to the punch when it received FDA approval for its skin cancer drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in September, several months ahead of BMS. The drugs are both expected to be blockbusters.

PD-1 is used by tumours to evade disease-fighting cells and the ability to block the protein provides a new way to fight against cancer, and is a step forward in the era of personalised medicine.

PD-1 inhibitors do not however work on all cancer patients and can only treat a sub-set of breast and colorectal cancer patients.

Roy explained that this would limit their use in the future. The sales of these drugs will also be hit if they are given for shorter periods than originally anticipated - and data is already showing that shorter therapy may be sufficient for many patients.

Reducing the duration of therapy to eight to 16 weeks could shrink the value of the PD-1 market to just $2.9bn - $5.8bn, Roy said.

Article by
Ben Adams

1st April 2015

From: Sales

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