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March 01, 2011 (Vol. 31, No. 5)

Immune System Disorders Market Shifting

Extensive Research Is Paying Off and Many New Therapeutic Approaches Are Being Pursued

  • There has been a fundamental shift in the immune system disorders market both in terms of the science behind the therapies and the way the sector has been generating revenues. Better understanding of the workings of the immune system has offered numerous biological targets for drug development leading to the emergence of novel therapeutic approaches. These developments are changing the entire landscape of the sector in multiple ways.

    The availability of a potentially large patient pool makes this sector attractive for investors. However, how much of this optimism will be translated into dollars is uncertain since the sector is facing numerous technical, economic, and regulatory challenges. A recent report published by BCC Research predicts modest growth for the sector during the next five years. The report titled “Therapeutics for Immune System Disorders” estimates that the sector growth will be at a CAGR of 2.6 from $72 billion in 2010 to reach $82 billion by 2015.

  • Domination of TNF-Alpha Blockers

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    The BCC report quantifies the market share of biologics in immune disease treatments to be around 47% in 2010, which is expected to rise to 57% by 2015. TNF-alpha blockers dominated the market with 29% of the market share (Table). The safety and efficacy standards of these drugs have raised the bar very high for new drugs. The market failure of the IL-1 inhibitor Kineret from Amgen was mainly because it could not find a niche in the rheumatoid arthritis market.

    Nevertheless, the recent success of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Orencia offers new hopes for some of the non-TNF-alpha drugs, as more patients are being identified as nonrespondents to TNF-alpha blockers. Launched in 2005, Orencia could not gain market share in the midst of established TNF-alpha inhibitors. Recently, it found a niche in the treatment of nonrespondents to TNF-alpha blockers. The drug is on its way to becoming a blockbuster.

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