The recent staggering performance of the biotech industry

Ampule and syringe.

The recent staggering performance of the biotech industry has been built around a belief that the sector’s R&D productivity is on the rebound and will deliver huge investor returns in the coming years. But a look at the forecast launches for 2014 tells a more modest tale.

Pie chart on Pha

Only three drugs to be launched this year are likely to achieve blockbuster status by 2018, a disappointing projection considering that at least six blockbusters-in-waiting reached the market every year for the last four.  Not all of these reached this billion dollar threshold, of course – for example, 2010 saw the launch of the spectacular disappointment Provenge. But today’s comparatively sedate view of the potential of coming launches makes a stark counterpoint to the stock market’s exuberance. The industry’s move towards so-called “nichebuster” drugs could help explain some of the migration, and these drugs are often in the orphan indications that deliver greater return on investment than their primary-care counterparts. And 2013 saw the launch of 10 new molecules forecast to become future blockbusters, including Gilead’s Sovaldi and Biogen Idec’s Tecfidera – a stand-out year for future earnings potential.  Yet billion-dollar drugs remain an indicator of the sector’s productivity, and their absence in the 2014 launch class is an indicator that should be watched closely.

It is not too surprising to see cancer drugs well represented in the list of this year’s big launches given the R&D priorities of big pharma and biotech alike – three make the list, with Eli Lilly’s ramucirumab and Gilead Sciences’ idelalisib joining nivolumab.

A little more surprising, given the high cost and scale of clinical trials to get them to market, is the presence of four diabetes drugs, making treatments for endocrinerelated disorders the biggest category of products forecast for launch.

This Blog is taken from Phil Yates. Phil has 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Phil started his career in pharmaceuticals at Bayer UK in 1986. He then moved on to Glaxo Pharmaceuticals (now GlaxoSmithKline), holding progressive positions within sales, sales training and marketing. Phil is now a specialist trainer providing mentoring and coaching support to managers in Europe and delivers training workshops within Europe and the Middle & Far East.

To find out more about these “nichebuster” drugs, as well as more on the latest trends in the pharmaceutical industry, why not attend one of Phil’s upcoming 3 Day MBA in Pharmaceuticals training courses? Click here to find out more.


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