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    Autoimmune Drug Market Could Take Off

    Why the market is expecting such significant growth.

    Pills on background

    The global immunology market—which covers autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, lupus, and ankylosing spondylitis—is set to rise from $57.7 billion in 2015 to $75.4 billion by 2022. This represents a compound annual growth rate of almost 4%, according to UK-based business intelligence provider GBI Research.

    The United States accounts for approximately half of the global immunology market and is expected to account for a similar proportion toward the end of the forecast period.

    “A key reason for the continuous growth in the market is the large, chronically affected patient population,” said GBI’s Managing Analyst Dominic Trewartha. “Because these conditions, which generally affect older patients, are debilitating and carry a high economic burden, the treatments are able to command high prices,” he said. 

    “But the main driver of growth has been newer therapies that offer iterative improvements upon the already strong existing therapies, adding to the range of options patients have,” he said.   

    Related article: Biosimilar offers hope of lower-cost treatment of autoimmune diseases

    In a written release, the company reported that disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs –a highly genericized class of systematic small molecule-based agents–are used in the first-line treatment of immunological disorders. However, as these therapies often fail to elicit an adequate long-term response, a large second-line therapy has emerged in these markets, which began with the approval of Remicade (infliximab) and Enbrel (etanercept) in 1988. This segment consists largely of premium system monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), which have been highly commercially successful over the past decade.

    “Generally, the first-line therapies are off-patent nonbiologic drugs such as methotrexate, corticosteroids, and sulfasalazine, which have been approved for decades and are heavily genericized,” Trewartha told Drug Topics. They are not expensive, he said, and are “generally effective in the general autoimmune population. They are unlikely to be shifted from this position for many years to come.”

    “The second and third lines of therapy are far more dynamic and competitive. The tumor necrosis factor inhibitor mAbs have constituted a strong second line of therapy across the key autoimmune disorders and have been difficult to displace. There are a number of promising upcoming late-stage pipeline products that are expected to compete with them and drive market growth in the second line of therapy.  In other cases, the new agents will constitute a strong third line of therapy,” Trewartha said.

    There is currently a large pharmaceutical pipeline for immunology, consisting of 2,054 products in active development, almost 100 of which are in phase III clinical trials. The majority of these fall into similar therapeutic categories to the current market, with interleukin and tumor necrosis factor inhibition remaining key therapy types.

    Up next: How pharmacists can help patients navigate autoimmune drugs

    Kathleen Gannon Longo
    Kathleen Gannon Longo is a Contributing Editor.

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