The wave of new drug approvals that had been building at the FDA has broken. According to the official tally of new drug and biologics approvals at the agency, the biopharma industry registered only 27 OKs for new entities in 2013--a sharp plunge from 2012's high of 39 that once again raises big questions about the productivity and sustainability of the world's multibillion-dollar R&D business.
The FDA has come through with an early approval of the BTK drug ibrutinib, a likely new cancer blockbuster from Pharmacyclics (and Johnson & Johnson.
So far this year the FDA has approved 27 new drugs, fewer than last year's total. But a greater focus on real medical breakthroughs will make this year's crop far more valuable than the harvest of 2012, according to EP Vantage.
Despite fewer drug approvals overall compared to last year, this year will have turned out a new crop of blockbusters whose combined revenues 5 years out are forecast to reach $18.7 billion, besting last year's record of $16.4 billion in projected sales, according to a report released today by EP Vantage.
Just hours after Bayer laid out some ambitious plans to accelerate development of a new wave of cancer and cardiovascular therapies, the FDA came through with a key new approval of riociguat--to be sold as Adempas--for a devastating lung disease.
So what happens at the FDA in the event of a government shutdown next Tuesday? For now, the agency isn't saying, referring reporters to an OMB statement guiding government agencies to prepare to execute "an orderly shutdown."
With Valeant Pharmaceuticals forking over $8.7 billion for eye-care giant Bausch + Lomb and Amgen's $10.4 billion deal for Onyx Pharmaceuticals, this could be a comeback year for pharma M&A, even as the drug approval rate remains healthy.
Few productivity metrics in biopharma measure up to the annual rate of new drug approvals. So now that the FDA has come through with only 13 novel approvals in the first half of the year, well off the pace of 39 new approvals in 2012, there's some handwringing going on.
The agency advisers weren't unanimous in backing GSK's follow-up to now-off-patent Advair, however.
Manufacturing problems are again standing in the way of a drug launch, with the FDA holding off approval of Allergan's ($AGN) new migraine treatment until problems at an inhaler plant are sorted out.