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Fri, May 16, 2008 - Page 10 News List

Cancer drugs to lead market rise: IMS

HEALTHCARE IMS predicted that drug spending in emerging countries could post double-digit growth compared with single-digit expansions in developed nations

AP , WASHINGTON

The global market for cancer drugs will grow twice as fast as that for all other pharmaceuticals as the developing world spends more on health care, a new report says.

China, Brazil, Russia and other emerging countries are becoming bigger customers for pharmaceuticals, as they invest more in treating and diagnosing cancer, a report issued by IMS Health yesterday said.

The healthcare research firm expects pharmaceutical spending in countries such as India, Mexico and Turkey to grow by 12 percent to 13 percent over the next 15 years, compared with single-digit growth for more developed nations.

Cancer drug spending is expected to grow between 12 percent and 15 percent annually through 2012 to US$75 billion to US$80 billion, the report said. The overall drug market is expected to grow at 6.4 percent.

Feeding that demand are the multibillion-dollar research and development budgets of firms like Genentech Inc, Amgen Inc and Novartis AG.

“Oncology is the top of the bill when it comes to new products in development,” said Titus Pattel, a vice president at IMS. “Oncology R&D dwarfs all other research efforts within these organizations.”

Cancer drug sales are expected to reach US$48 billion this year, led by Genentech’s breast cancer drug Herceptin, Novartis’ leukemia drug Gleevec and other blockbusters.

But the market is not immune to a slowdown. Expiring patents on older cancer drugs and efforts to tighten healthcare spending could limit future growth, IMS said.

Some European countries have begun paying drug companies based on how successfully their drugs treat patients. The Italian government, for example, only began reimbursing Johnson & Johnson for the cancer treatment Velcade after the drug demonstrated positive results in patients. IMS said that the adoption of similar policies in the US could slow spending on cancer medications.

Pharmaceutical firms also face a tougher regulatory environment in the US, where the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has delayed several highly anticipated cancer therapies.

Last year, the agency denied approval of Dendreon’s prostate cancer vaccine Provenge, despite an overwhelmingly positive review by the agency’s outside advisers.

“There’s a tendency from the FDA to be more conservative than they have over the last 10 years,” Pattel said.

An aggressive review environment could dampen the market for between 25 and 30 new anticancer drugs currently in development, the IMS report says. At the same time, some of the biggest blockbuster cancer drugs of the last decade will lose their patent protection, including Sanofi-Aventis’ Taxotere and AstraZeneca PLC’s Arimidex.

Expiring drug patents and an increasingly crowded market for cancer therapies will lower spending in the US and Europe. These markets are expected to account for 65 percent of the global cancer drugs market by 2012, down from 71 percent last year, IMS said.

The company’s forecast comes ahead of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting, which begins on May 30.

Abstracts for company studies were to be released last night, giving researchers and investors a preview of clinical results for experimental drugs.

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