In 2018, the global sales of cancer drugs was estimated to be worth more than USD 120 billion; this makes it the largest disease field on the pharmaceutical market. In spite of the development of immuno-oncological drugs, the need for better treatments remains very urgent. More than a thousand oncological and hematological drug development projects are underway, but only a few of them are specifically focused on tumour spread.
The fastest growing segment
Cancer treatment is the fastest growing segment on the pharmaceutical market, with a projected annual growth rate of 15 percent; it is estimated to reach USD 280 billions by 2024. Growth is led by the introduction of new, more efficient pharmaceuticals, treatment for longer periods of time and speedier access to new therapies for patients in for example the US. This global growth is occurring nothwithstanding the expected decline in pharmaceutical prices, including in the US, which represents 45 percent of the global pharmaceutical market.
Surgery remains the primary treatment for solid tumours
Surgery is the primary treatment option against cancer, and chemotherapy remains the dominating drug treatment. During the last ten years, a number of drugs that target specific biological mechanisms have been developed, to hopefully be able to improve the impact and reduce the side effects from the cancer therapy. While progress has been made, the overall cancer mortality has not been substantially reduced, and the need for new drugs is still considerable. Today, the focus of research and development lies on testing combinations of drugs, and on immuno-oncological therapies.
Vast resources are being directed towards development of novel cancer drugs
Cancer is one of the disease fields that by far attracts the most resources for drug development on a global scale. Large and small pharmaceutical companies alike, as well as academic research groups, are making an intense effort to develop novel drugs with new modes of action, in order to improve treatment of primary tumours. The fact that new therapies against different kinds of cancer likely will be available in the future is estimated to increase the demand for adjunctive therapies to restrict tumour spread.
Colon and rectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer in the world. The probability of successful treatment depends on how early the cancer is detected. In cases where diagnosis occurs at such a late stage that the tumour has already spread through remote metastasis, the disease is usually incurable. During 2012, 1.4 million new cases were found globally, and 700,000 people died from the disease. The sales of colon and rectal cancer drugs amounted to USD 8.3 billion in 2013, and are expected to rise to USD 9.4 billion by 2020. About two thirds of the patients are primarily classified as colon cancer patients, while a third are classified as rectal cancer patients. Treatment with Foxy-5 to prevent metastasis could be relevant for those colon and rectal cancer patients that exhibit low levels of Wnt-5A in their primary tumours, as does approximately 40-50 of the patient population.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer form in men, and the second most common cause of death in developed countries. Except for antihormonal therapy, there are no effective systemic therapies available for these patients. It is estimated that more than 1.2 million cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed globally in 2018, and 350,000 men is going to die. The sales of drugs for prostate cancer treatment is estimated to reach USD 8.4 billion in 2018, and it is expected to rise to USD 13 billion by 2026.
Breast cancer is not only the most common cancer form in women, it is also the most common cancer-related cause of death for women in the world. The disease is estimated to cause 27 percent of all new cancers in women. Globally, 2.1 million new cases of breast cancer are expected to be detected during 2018, and more than 600,000 women are going to die from the disease. According to analyses from GlobalData, the global market is expected to grow by about 4 percent annually, reaching a volume of sales of approximately USD 21 billion by 2025.
GlobalData, October 2018
GLOBOCAN 2018;IARC; WHO; 2018