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16 June 2015Americas

BIO 2015: Patent cliff ‘firmly in rear view mirror’

The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are in “very good shape” and the so-called patent cliff is “firmly in the rear view mirror”, according to a report by life sciences market research company Evaluate.

Evaluate presented the findings in its “EvaluatePharma 2015” report at the BIO International Convention 2015 in Philadelphia today, June 16.

The report predicted that prescription drug sales will reach almost $1 trillion by 2020, increasing at a yearly average rate of nearly 5% from 2015.

It said that $197 billion of drug sales are at risk from patent expiries between 2015 and 2020, though it added that according to market predictions only $99 billion of that figure will materialise.

By comparison, the report said, $120 billion of drug sales was lost between 2009 and 2014.

“The reduction in expected sales lost over the next six years is largely due to softer post-patent sales erosion of biological products,” the report said.

Although we are reaching the end of the small molecules patent cliff, patent attorneys in the US will continue to be busy, as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a record number of new drugs in 2014. The paper said that the FDA approved 50 new drugs in total, 20 of which were new biologicals.

The biggest selling product in 2014 was AbbVie’s Humira (adalimumab), which generated sales of $13 billion. Gilead’s hepatitis C drug Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), which costs $1,000 per pill in the US, came in second last year, making worldwide sales of $10 billion.

Evaluate’s head of operations Paul Hills, and Lisa Urquhart, editor of Evaluate’s news service EP Vantage, wrote in the report: “With many predicting that for the first time the industry could produce a series of real ‘cures’ for previously intractable diseases, it is clear that these innovative drugs will come at a price.

“What is also clear is the growing reluctance of both government and private healthcare providers to fund very expensive drug treatment regimens.”

Evaluate found the biggest generic drug maker in 2014 to be Israel-based Teva, which recorded sales of $9bn. Johnson & Johnson was named the most valuable pharma company.

The value of mergers and acquisitions transactions nearly doubled from 2013 to 2014, to $116bn, the report said.

Urquhart added: “Any fears that the pharmaceutical industry might be heading towards a slowdown after the last two years of phenomenal growth can be put to rest for now.

“However, for the industry to sustain this impressive growth they will have to make compromises around global pricing and market access. As such, pharmaceutical companies need to either accept lower prices for their products, or persuade payers that the therapeutic benefits outweigh the cost of disease.”

The 2015 BIO International Convention is taking place in Philadelphia from June 15 to 18.

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