Over their lifetimes, Baby Boomers have pumped product sales in one market after another, starting with diapers. Now, aging Boomers are set to influence another business altogether: cancer drugs.
Thanks to the size of that cohort in the United States, plus advances in medicine that are prolonging people's lives around the world, the number of cancer cases is expected to grow to 22.2 million in 2030, from 12.8 million in 2008, Bloomberg reports. So, while cancer death rates have been declining over the past two decades--and the number of cancer survivors growing--those gains could be undermined, according to the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR).
The globe's aging population is one reason oncology is a hot prospect for drugmakers. Cancer drugs also carry bigger price tags than many other types of treatments. Increasing numbers of patients plus lucrative pricing equals big growth for the oncology market, with sales expected to surpass $114 billion by 2018, according to EvaluatePharma.
Which drugmakers are expected to benefit most as the market grows? For sheer size, we have Roche ($RHHBY), the Swiss drugmaker that generated $23 billion in worldwide cancer-drug sales last year. By 2018, the company is expected to surpass $30 billion--and command a 26.5% share of the market. No surprise, then, that Roche sells three of the drugs expected to be in the top 5 that year: Avastin, Rituxan, and Herceptin.
Next in line--but far behind--is Celgene ($CELG), which brought in $5.3 billion in cancer in 2012 and is expected to hit $10 billion in 2018. The drugmaker's blockbuster multiple myeloma product, Revlimid, is expected to bring in $6.6 billion that year. Novartis ($NVS), in third place, should top $9 billion in 2018, and its cancer treatment Afinitor is expected to bring in a bit less than $3.5 billion.
There are scores of promising cancer drugs in Big Pharma's pipelines. But the AACR worries that cancer research funding won't flow quickly enough to keep cancer death rates on the decline. Basic research about the disease--including the sort of biomarker research that's increasingly important--has to be a priority, the organization says, citing budget cuts at the National Cancer Institute. "We must continue to pursue a comprehensive understanding of the biology of cancer," AACR President Charles Sawyers said (as quoted by Bloomberg). "This will only be possible if we make funding for cancer research and biomedical science a national priority."
As Bloomberg notes, the FDA has issued 11 cancer drug approvals over the past 12 months, including the following new drugs: Roche's breast cancer drug Kadcyla, Bayer's prostate cancer therapy Xofigo, GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) melanoma treatments Tafinlar and Mekinist, and Pfizer's ($PFE) leukemia drug Bosulif.
- read the Bloomberg story
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