From an increase in sales of interleukin inhibitors to the prevalence of biosimilars, this decade has been an eventful one in the immunology industry.
Patrick Aiyes, Senior Immunology Analyst at leading data and analytics company GlobalData, observes the key trends that has shaped the immunology market in the last decade:
Key immunology drugs
“The immunology market has seen a continuous increase in the sales of interleukin inhibitors and a decrease in the sales of TNF inhibitors – primarily because of the entry of biosimilars into the market and the increased safety profile associated with interleukin inhibitors. Abbvie’s Humira will end the decade as the highest grossing drug of 2019, generating sales of approximately $19B globally, while Janssen’s Stelara will be the highest-grossing interleukin inhibitor in the market.
“JAK inhibitors have also been a very popular drug in the immunology space. After the approval of Pfizer’s Xeljanz in RA in 2012, Eli Lilly’s Olumiant and Abbvie’s Rinvoq have followed suit. Although this class of drugs boasts a great efficacy profile and a fast onset of action, there has been controversy surrounding its safety and this has been a key topic in the latter years of the decade. Long-term studies are needed to see if this class of drugs will be useful in the next ten years.”
Improvement in research
“In the last decade, there has been a breakthrough in research surrounding diseases that have not had therapies approved. For example, in atopic dermatitis (AD) Sanofi’s Dupixient was approved in 2017, while Benlysta was approved for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in 2011.
“There have been many breakthrough and fast-track designations assigned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to promising drugs in diseases where there is a lack of safe and efficacious agents. Over the last ten years, graft versus host disease (GvHD) saw as many as nine drugs assigned breakthrough or fast-track designations, while AD saw six drugs, and SLE saw five. This is primarily because therapies with specific targets are now being introduced to help patients’ treatments.”
“The increasing prevalence of biosimilars has noticeably had a negative impact on mainstay biologics, including Janssen’s Remicade and Abbvie’s cash cow, Humira, which faced the introduction of biosimilars in Europe in 2018. In 2019, biosimilars will generate sales of over $3.4B, with Pfizer’s Inflectra generating a whopping $671M.
“On the disruption caused by biosimilars, big pharma is most at-risk from the arrival of biosimilar competition. However, many have invested in their own biosimilar pipelines to offset risk, typically through partnerships. Biosimilars were mainly brought in to help reduce the cost of very expensive drugs, while this strategy is working in Europe, there is still more to be done in order to keep healthcare costs low in the US.”