Orphan drugs to plug pipeline gaps

April 16, 2010
Stephanie Sutton
Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

Orphan drugs may help pharma companies to reduce the impact of revenue loss caused by patent expiries of blockbuster drugs, according to market analysts Frost & Sullivan.

Orphan drugs may help pharma companies to reduce the impact of revenue loss caused by patent expiries of blockbuster drugs, according to market analysts Frost & Sullivan.

"The current economic situation plus the huge generic competition shifted the focus of pharmaceutical companies and they are moving to a new business model — 'niche busters', also called orphan drugs," Frost & Sullivan healthcare consultant Shabeer Hussain said in a press statement. He also explained that approximately $99 billion worth of branded drugs will lose exclusivity in the next 5 years.

The pharma industry's growth has slowed in recent years because of patent expiries, drying pipelines and increasingly stringent regulatory guidelines. According to Frost & Sullivan, the new business model of orphan drugs could offer an integrated healthcare solution that enables pharma companies to develop newer areas of therapeutics, diagnosis, treatment, monitoring and patient support. The press statement said: "Clinical trials for orphan drugs are run efficiently with smaller patient groups, thereby reducing costs significantly. Incentives for drug development provided by governments, as well as support from the FDA and EU Commission in special protocols are a further boost for companies developing orphan drugs."

Frost & Sullivan also noted that the cost of developing and marketing an orphan drug can be reduced if pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies enter into partnerships by licensing products to maintain revenue.

Hussain said: "The global pharmaceutical industry is beginning to grow and expand, but part of the reason is because this year has been the year of biopharmaceuticals. Biopharmaceuticals are likely to continue to take the major share of the pharmaceutical industry and be in direct competition to the small molecule drugs. These effects will create new consolidated companies and this will change the landscape of the pharmaceutical industry."

ref="http://www.frost.com" target="_blank">www.frost.com