After a period of relative stability, a glut of patent expiries is just five years away for the oncology market, according to pharmaceutical analyst Datamonitor Healthcare.
Over US$17 billion of sales will be at risk in 2018/19 as many of the top performing oncology drugs lose their patent or exclusivity protection. By 2022 this will have grown to over US$32 billion in sales at risk of erosion by cheaper copy products. To put these numbers into perspective, US$32 billion equates to approximately 36% of the current cancer treatment market.
According to Giles Somers, lead Generics & Biosimilars analyst at Datamonitor Healthcare, this will lead to a divergence in the market:
“Oncology pipelines are rich with candidates, which is great news for patients. However, with so many in development, pharmaceutical companies will have to deal with either a large number of commercial failures or a more fragmented market.
“There’s a continued move towards drugs using diagnostics, which often results in smaller target populations. While this is to be welcomed, companies will correspondingly require higher prices for treatments if satisfactory sales levels are to be achieved – this can be challenging at a time when heavy costs are attracting a great deal of scrutiny and criticism.
“Either way, we’re heading towards an era of higher price, lower volume products, or a fragmented market with products commanding lower average sales. This will ultimately alter the financial dynamics for companies seeking to develop generic or biosimilar copies, as this current wave of new launches expire further out.”
Of the top ten selling oncology treatments, both Herceptin and Alimta will face patent expiry in the next eighteen months in the EU, with Velcade the next to lose its US patent in 2017.