The product mix of pharmaceutical companies' pipelines and commercial drugs is of crucial importance to contract development and manufacturing organizations as they evaluate their service capabilities and tailor them to demand. Market fundamentals are changing. The erosion of the blockbuster-drug model, traditionally supported by small-molecule drugs (i.e., drugs with a molecular weight of < 500 Da), in favor of an increased emphasis on biologic-based development is an important consideration not only for pharmaceutical companies' product strategies, but for contract service providers that offer drug-substance and finished-product manufacturing. Although small-molecule drugs will continue to dominate the overall pharmaceutical market, market growth in small-molecule drugs will contract in the near term. Growth for monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), therapeutic proteins, and vaccines is expected to be strong.
Big Pharma's growing focus on biologics
Reflecting the pharmaceutical industry's burgeoning interest in high-growth biologic markets, 27% (seven out of 26) of US Food and Drug Administration new drug approvals in 2009 were for biologic license applications (BLAs). This number represents the highest proportion of biologic approvals since 2003 (2). In fact, the growth in approved BLAs offset the decline in approved new molecular entities (NMEs). Furthermore, the number of US orphan-drug designations has more than doubled in the past decade, from 208 (2000–2002) to 425 (2006–2008) (3). The number of orphan drug approvals grew from 32 to 47, an increase of 47%. In 2009, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) granted orphan status to 103 medicines, the highest number since European orphan-medicines legislation was introduced in 2000 (4).
Injectable drugs set to drive market growth
Despite the current dominance of oral drugs, which typically are associated with small-molecule drug delivery, injectable drugs enjoyed strong growth between 2002 and 2008 at 20.8% CAGR. Injectables will continue to enjoy the fastest growth rate of all delivery mechanisms (i.e., 4.9% CAGR) until 2014, aided by the development of vaccines and mAb therapies which are typically delivered by this mechanism. The loss of patent protection for blockbuster brands such as Pfizer's Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Effexor (venlafaxine), and AstraZeneca's (London) Seroquel (quetiapine) will trigger strong generic-drug competition and sales erosion for oral drugs.