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Tension expected as cancer market rises to $150bn-plus

IMS Health report anticipates increased demand for value-based pricing of oncology drugs

Cancer 

Global spending on cancer medicines will accelerate thanks to the launch of new cancer immunotherapies, topping $150bn by 2020.

That is the conclusion of a new report from IMS Health, which has raised its prediction for annual growth in the coming years from 6-8% through 2018 to 7.5-10.5% through 2020.

Last year, cancer drug sales were $107bn, an 11.5% increase on the $90bn recorded in the prior year, says the report, which has been published just as the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting gets underway in Chicago.

The launch of new highly-priced medicines will be a key element in the growth of the market, but price rises for existing drugs, an increase in the patient population and longer treatment durations - as patients start to survive for longer - will also play a role.

The figures are based on the ex-manufacturer price level - before the application of rebates or other price concessions - notes IMS. Nevertheless, the rise is likely lead to tensions between the industry and healthcare payers, who will seek "assurance of the value that results from their expenditure on these drugs".

Debate on cancer drug pricing is expected to feature prominently alongside clinical analyses once again at ASCO. Last year, a keynote by Leonard Saltz of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre (MSKCC) slammed the high process being charged for new drugs, saying they were unsustainable and not linked to the value of the drug.

"The new science redefining cancer as a large number of narrowly defined diseases and yielding therapeutic options for an expanding number of patients is rapidly transforming the oncology treatment landscape," said Murray Aitken, executive director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

He warned however that most healthcare systems are "struggling to adapt and embrace this evolution". In the US for example, patients are facing increasingly higher out-of-pocket costs.

"These challenges demand urgent attention in light of the strong near-term pipeline of clinically distinctive therapies," he added.
More than 70 new cancer drugs have been launched in the last five years, with a 60% increase in the pipeline of experimental drugs over the last decade, says IMS.

Meanwhile, the time from discovery to approval for successful projects is now less than 10 years, in part because of regulatory factors such as the FDA's breakthrough therapy designation.

Despite the push through the pipeline, the availability of new drugs varies widely around the world, according to the report.

Of the 49 oncology New Active Substances launched between 2010 and 2014, fewer than half were available to patients by the end of 2015 in all but six countries: the U.S., Germany, UK, Italy, France and Canada, notes IMS.

Article by
Phil Taylor

3rd June 2016

From: Sales

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