miércoles, 30 de marzo de 2016

2015 Golden year for pharma / Orphan Blockbusters


Enter 2015 during which the FDA approved 45 new drugs, four more than in 2014 again the highest number since 1996. 

FDA Drug Approvals (1994 through 2015). NME=New Molecular Entity, BLA=Biologic License Application; 
Source: FDA
Twenty-one (21) of those (47%) were “orphan” drugs. This compares to 17 orphan drugs approved in 2014 or 41% of the total.

Orphan Blockbusters 

Until a few years ago, if you asked a pharmaceutical company executive why his or her company developed and marketed an “orphan drug”—i.e., a drug for a disorder affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S.—you would likely have gotten a response such as “because there is an unmet medical need” or something similar. Today, however, orphan drugs also have the potential to turn into blockbusters. 

That potential is being realized. As reported recently by CNBC (http://cnb.cx/1kUViSf),

Drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration as ‘orphan drugs’ have seen sales increase from $46.6 billion in 2014 to $54 billion this year in the U.S. alone and are projected by drug industry consultant EvaluatePharma to reach above $60 billion in 2016. Worldwide, orphan drug sales are forecast to total $102 billion this year and $178 billion by 2020.” 

Orphan drug approvals are very profitable for the pharma industry, which often submits drugs to the FDA as orphan drugs but once approved, the drugs are “used broadly off-label with the lucretive orphan drug protections and exclusivity benefits,” according to the authors of a study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Oncology (http://sco.lt/4pauhN). 

Seven of the top 10 drugs in global sales have received an orphan designation from the FDA. Crestor, for example, received an orphan drug designation for the treatment of pediatric homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia in 2014 (see Table 1, below).


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