CVD pharma companies face a tough decade

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Pharmaceutical companies will struggle to profit from the cardiovascular disease (CVD) market over the next decade despite growing drug usage, according to Datamonitor, which predicted that the CVD pharmaceutical market will grow from $99 billion in 2008 to $107 billion in 2018.

According to the market research firm’s report, patent expiries and generic competition will have a major negative impact, with the London-based AstraZeneca and Bagsværd, Denmark-based Novo Nordisk emerging as the only major CVD pharmaceutical companies expected to generate positive sales growth over the period.

“[G]rowth in CVD drug usage in the developed world will be driven by the increase in patient populations, early diagnosis and early initiation of drug therapy as healthcare providers target the CVD complications associated with an increasingly obese population,” Datamonitor reported.

However, the firm said Big Pharma will struggle to capitalize from this surge in CVD drug usage as the increase in usage will be concentrated in the generic sector as budget control becomes the “key driver in healthcare policy.” Datamonitor expects the CVD market to have a compound annual growth rate of just 0.8 percent from 2008-2018.

“The CVD market is one of the most mature pharma markets and the traditional drivers—hypertension and dyslipidemia—will be heavily impacted by patent expiries and generic competition,” said report author Anthony Nealon, MD, senior healthcare analyst at Datamonitor, which is headquartered in London.

The two largest drugs in the entire pharma market—atorvastatin (Lipitor, Pfizer) and clopidogrel (Plavix, Bristol-Myers Squibb/Sanofi-Aventis)—are both due to lose patent protection in 2011. Generic competition is also expected to impact other blockbuster drugs in the CVD market such as losartan (Cozaar, Merck), valsartan (Diovan, Novartis) and pioglitazone (Actos, Takeda Pharmaceuticals).

“Weak development pipelines in hypertension and dyslipidemia will not be able to replace revenues lost following the introduction of generic competition,” the report found.

“This is due to current marketed drugs offering a wide range of therapy options for treatment, plus, there are no remaining significant clinical unmet needs to spur on development candidates” said Nealon.

However, the report also found that decline in the traditional therapy areas will be offset by growth in diabetes and thrombosis as new drugs able to meet significant unmet clinical needs for patients reach the market. The pipelines for the two therapy areas are forecasted to add more than $20 billion to sales in the seven major markets by 2018.

“This market growth will see diabetes become the largest therapy market in the seven major markets with sales of $37 billion in 2018,” said Nealon.

Despite the fall in the overall dyslipidemia market, Datamonitor forecasted that, over the 2008-2018 period, AstraZeneca will generate strong growth from its dyslipidemia drug Crestor (rosuvastatin). The company has been successful in differentiating Crestor from other drugs within the therapy area on the back of the comprehensive GALAXY clinical trial program, which includes the JUPITER trial.

According to Datamonitor, the company’s success in clinical development has also led to it having the strongest late-stage CVD development pipeline with ticagrelor (Brilinta, AstraZeneca) and saxagliptin (Onglyza, AstraZeneca/Bristol-Myers Squibb), which are both forecasted to generate "blockbuster sales."

Novo Nordisk is the only other CVD company forecasted to generate positive sales growth during the 2008-2018 period. The company will be able to capitalize on its market-leading position in insulin therapy and defend the position due to the unique characteristics of the insulin market, the market research firm said.

“Insulin therapies offer a highly defendable position to generic entries; this is due to the high degree of brand and company loyalty generated by the significant patient and physician support services offered by the three leading insulin companies. This sets significant barriers to new entrants and Novo Nordisk, as the leading insulin company, is positioned to benefit the most from this market.” concluded Nealon.