High clinical development costs coupled with declining drug discovery success rates are causing productivity levels to fall in the global pharmaceuticals industry. The imminent patent expiry of several major blockbuster drugs and the related rise of cheaper generic alternatives is further exacerbating the situation. Despite this, the global pharmaceutical industry offers significant growth opportunity for participants that can build new strategic business models.
Estimated at USD 554.00 billion in 2004, the global pharmaceuticals market is forecast to register an annual growth rate of 8.2 per cent from 2004 to 2011 to reach USD 967.00 billion. Such expansion is expected, however, to be based on the ability of pharmaceuticals companies to adapt to changes in patient population, and target diseases of unmet medical need to maximise revenue potential.
For instance, an ageing global population is poised to drive pharmaceutical drugs for indications such as macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease. Drugs that address rising multifactorial disorders such as cancer as well as lifestyle disorders such as obesity are also likely to experience strong revenue growth.
Moreover, as patient groups become more fragmented and diagnostic methods improve, the demand for evidence-based personalised treatments is likely to increase.
“It is essential for major pharmaceuticals companies to move from the blockbuster model and adopt new strategies that cater to specific diseases areas and populations,” notes Frost & Sullivan Healthcare Analyst Phil Webster. “To grow in this new era of evidence-based personalised medicine, companies should generate a sustainable product pipeline characterised by improved productivity and diversity.”
Market participants need to replace their dependence on a limited number of highly lucrative drug candidates with a more comprehensive and diverse product portfolio. Innovative products that focus on areas of unmet medical need and cover a broad range of disease indications are likely to underpin a strong, sustainable product pipeline. Furthermore, companies need to examine reformulations and investigate new indications for existing blockbuster drugs.
At the same time, the use of computer modelling and biomarker discovery to aid the discovery of promising drug candidates is likely to facilitate an enhanced understanding of the clinical development process and help them to make more informed investment decisions.
“Less investment will be lost through late stage drug candidate failures as more compounds succeed in the clinical development process,” elaborates Mr. Webster. “More novel techniques to identify toxic or ineffective drugs early in the development process such as the use of biological models, bioinformatics and biomarkers will drive down development costs, increase revenues and improve overall industry productivity.”
As large pharmaceuticals companies try to enhance their drug development pipelines, mergers, acquisitions and licensing agreements for individual compounds are likely to gain appeal. Mergers and strategic collaborations to invest in existing leads are also likely to diffuse the cost of potential failures, thereby preventing the draining of company resources.