Market for antibodies
BioInvent develops antibody-based drugs in the field of cancer, focusing on haematological cancers. The antibody-based drug segment is one of the fastest growing segments in the global pharmaceutical market. During the period 2004–2010 the sales of antibody-based drugs in the oncology field increased from USD 10 billion to USD 40 billion, and by 2016 the total is expected to exceed USD 65 billion.1 Antibodies have a beneficial risk profile and several studies have shown that a larger percentage of projects in the antibody area reach the market today compared to traditional pharmaceuticals.
Three of the top-selling antibody-based drugs in the world are Rituxan/Mabthera® (rituximab, Roche), Herceptin® (trastuzumab, Roche) and Avastin® (bevacizumab, Roche). The combined sales of these substances amounted to around USD 21 billion in 2015.
In the next five years the patents for Rituxan/Mabthera® and Herceptin® will expire at the same time as new, improved therapies are expected to reach the market.
There are several success factors that explain the strong market growth for antibody-based drugs. Antibodies are nature’s own defence molecules. They are highly selective and, in their natural form, are very well tolerated. They exert a precise effect and integrate naturally with the rest of the immune system which can also modulate the antibody’s therapeutic effect. Another success factor is that antibody-based drugs maintain higher prices, mainly due to the fact that, compared to traditional drugs, they are exposed to much less competition from generics. This type of biopharmaceutical is much more complex than small molecules, which makes them difficult to copy. The time needed to develop antibody-based drugs has also proved to be shorter than for traditional pharmaceuticals, and development costs are therefore lower.