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Report: Absence of 2014 blockbuster drug launches puts R&D productivity at risk

Monday, February 10, 2014

The past two years have brought a surge of R&D productivity, driving investor confidence and increasing market performance, but 2014 looks to tell a different tale according to a new report from EP Vantage, a source of life science market intelligence and analysis.

The report, Biggest Launches 2014, found that only three drugs slated to launch this year will achieve blockbuster status by 2018. A disappointing number compared to the 10 new molecules approved in 2013. This could all change, however, should Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb‘s anti-programmed death-1 (PD-1) antibodies reach the market this year.

“While the launch timetable for 2013 performed as expected, several products saw their forecasts increase and with an incredible class of eight to 10 drugs slated to become blockbusters, 2013 proved to be a tough act to follow,” said Jonathan Gardner, report author and EP Vantage deputy news editor. “The class of 2014 will fail to match last year’s high mark. And with giant new products needed to restore faith in R&D productivity, how the lack of blockbuster drug launches will affect investor’s views of the biotech sector will be one of the interesting stories of this year.”

Among the report’s key findings:

  • The forecasted blockbusters of 2014 include: GlaxoSmithKline‘s combination COPD therapy, Anoro Ellipta, Lundbeck‘s Brintellix for major depressive disorder and Celgene‘s psoriatic athritis drug, Apremilast
  • Diabetes is forecasted to be the biggest category of products set to launch in 2014 with oncology and anti-infectives also well represented on the list
  • While small molecules still dominate new medicines, 2014 could be one of the biggest years for biological drug launches, particularly if the PD-1 antibodies make it to market
  • The industry’s move to “nichebuster” drugs may explain the switch from blockbuster drug development, but billion-dollar drugs remain an indicator of the sector’s productivity

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