In 2013, global sales of ethical oncology drugs exceeded $92 million, and sales are expected to exceed $120 million in 2020, far more than the drug revenues of any other therapy area. Thus, developing novel therapies for oncology indications is an attractive goal for pharmaceutical companies, but the competition is fierce. To be well received by both oncologists and payers, emerging treatments must be evaluated in robust clinical trials and demonstrate significant improvements in clinically meaningful end points over an appropriate comparator. Demonstrating these advantages while balancing costs is a significant challenge, but companies can overcome this hurdle through judicious use of combination treatments (e.g., the combination of two or more antineoplastic drugs with different mechanisms of action can act synergistically to improve patient outcomes) and collaboration with other drugmakers (i.e., to supplement and complement the capabilities needed to develop effective new therapies and successfully penetrate the market).
Questions Answered in This Report:
- What types of competition exist in the oncology market, and how will this competition develop over time? Product competition in the oncology market is intense, although the advent of biomarkers has helped carve out clinically distinct niches for select drugs. Nevertheless competition is set to intensify as new and improved therapies compete with current standards of care. The best-selling brands in the oncology market are biologics, but these agents will face considerable competition from biosimilars.
- What are the benefits and pitfalls of combination drug development in oncology? Combination drug treatment is a common feature across multiple oncology indications because two (or more) drugs with different but complementary mechanisms of action often act synergistically to improve patients’ outcome. Despite benefits that combination drug treatment can provide, there are challenges with this strategy, and once an efficacious combination is discovered, completive threats are likely to follow.
- What types of strategic partnerships are most commonly formed in oncology, and what are recent trends in this space? Owing to increased competition between products and the growing trend for combination drug development, the oncology sector is particularly rich with strategic alliances and partnerships. Such collaborations are forged with the intention to maximize market potential of current or emerging therapies. The benefits of strategic collaborations include synergistic capabilities, reduction in financial risk, and shortened drug development timelines; however, collaborative drug development efforts are not without their own challenges.