Oncology research has gone on to attain priority status and has apparently been flush with pharma research dollars for years. The fact is that drug development companies went on to raise $7 billion in 2020 because of the disease’s heavy human toll, and cancer drug sales may almost double to $320.6 billion by 2026.
It does not come as a surprise that those three kinds of cancer- breast, solid tumors, as well as prostate went on to make the top five list of most studied diseases last year, as per the Phesi Global Analysis report, which looked at over 65,000 trials that involved 100 million patients. Breast cancer, which happened to top the Phesi list for the third year in a row, is one of the two most general cancers across the globe and accounts for one in every three cancers when it comes to American women. A 2023 report from PhRMA went out to find that that there are as of now 94 drugs in the pipeline for breast cancer. Although the death rate for the disease dipped 43% from its peak in 1989 to 2020, there still happens to be demand for more effective treatments when it comes to metastatic cancers and more aggressive kinds of cancer, like triple negative disease, and those that go on to express the HER3 protein, which happen to have no approved treatments, as per the PhRMA.
Apart from breast cancer, research into solid tumors as well as prostate cancer also made Phesi’s top five, ranking at 2 and 5, respectively.
Apparently, the positive news is that there has been a surge in trial recruitment throughout all the top five indications in 2023, opined Phesi’s President, Dr. Gen Li. The fact is that what has been very notable is the rise in solid tumor trials, which indeed are likely to be the foundation of innovative cancer therapies, and interestingly, the investment in this area happens to be a promising sign for patients.
Solid tumors have gone on to gain more attention in recent years, with 677 medicines currently in development to treat them, as per PhRMA. Another 78 medicines are in the pipeline when it comes to prostate cancer, which happens to be the most common in U.S. men.
The other two kinds in the top five most studied diseases in 2023 went to COVID-19 and stroke research. Unsurprisingly, trials for COVID went on to lose steam through the year as the urgency related to the disease went off and people tried to put the pandemic behind them.
Li adds that they have seen a major reduction in investment in COVID therapies last year, most likely because there were fewer patients. The prospective market when it comes to COVID therapies is indeed less attractive when it comes to investment, and they expect this downward trend to consistently go on.
But investments when it comes to stroke R&D leaped three spots from fifth in 2022 to second last year. It is well to be noted that the number of stroke-related deaths, especially in younger people, is anticipated to double by 2050, which may as well lead to more interest in this area.
In total, the clinical trial activity also scaled back due to the pandemic. The attrition rate in the phase 2 trial was down 1% since 2022, however still hovered at 28%, thereby marking a sizable leap from the 20% rate of attrition that was seen before the pandemic, as per Phesi.
Li says that ultimately, the clinical development sector is indeed beginning to recover from the pandemic, but one can expect the long-term effect to stretch into 2025.
This could as well slow the pace of novel drugs coming to market and may go on to put further pressure when it comes to future R&D costs.