Combating losses due to patent expiries has become a high priority for pharmaceutical companies. Investing in new drug delivery technologies is becoming a critical strategy for them to maintain a strong presence in this cut-throat market as they offer the potential to enhance the life cycle of established drugs.
A number of drug delivery, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are allocating significant resources towards the development of novel drug delivery systems. Once a small market, the drug delivery market is now poised for significant growth and holds great opportunities for both current players and new entrants.
"The global drug delivery market has witnessed encouraging growth in the past and is forecasted to gain significant importance in the coming years," notes Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Sylvia Miriyam Findlay. "Heightened competition, the need to maximise revenues and combating patent expiries have forced pharmaceutical companies roll up their sleeves and seek out novel drug delivery systems."
Though the drug delivery market is dominated by oral forms of drugs (52 per cent of the market), other methods, particulary the non-invasive forms - pulmonary, transdermal and nanotechnology - are growing at a rapid pace.
The systemic delivery of drugs through pulmonary means has been the subject of significant research in the medical community. No longer confined to the treatment of respiratory diseases, the successes of dry powder inhalation have pushed the inhalation market to a new level.
Trasndermal drug delivery has also been gaining momentum as certain applications, such as contraceptive patches, have been found to be as effective as their oral counterparts. Cancer pain medication - Fentanyl - has been delivered transdermally and has witnessed increased uptake because of its convenience. Neurological and diabetes medications are other therapeutic drugs that are being investigated for transdermal drug delivery.
One of the most promising areas in drug delivery is nanotechnology. Nano-enabled drug delivery offers tremendous advantages over the current forms of drug delivery such as enhanced solubility, commendable bio-availability, better targeting and controlled delivery.
"The Nanotechnology-based drug delivery market is expected to garner $700-$800 billion revenues by 2015," says Findlay. "The market will be driven by the expanding horizon of therapeutic applications. Venture capital investments in nanotechnology drug delivery companies have been increasing and have therefore provided a positive spin to the market growth."
For many pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, forging alliances with pure-play drug delivery companies offer the best opportunities to gain access to novel technologies. This can become a crucial strategy for pharmaceutical players to hold onto their market presence.
"Frost & Sullivan's analysis reveals that pharmaceutical companies look for various parameters before forging alliances with drug delivery companies," Findlay says. "A technological edge is most critical, as novel drug delivery methods should focus on providing the maximum patient benefits in addition to having commercial viability."
Frost & Sullivan believes that continuous research efforts in the area of drug delivery will enable the production of novel drug/device combinations. In addition, the future is bound to witness advancements in protein delivery through oral, nasal, buccal, pulmonary and transdermal delivery systems.