The rise of specialty and the increasing importance of biologics
The global pharmaceutical market is expected to exceed $1.5 trillion by 2023. However, the growth we see is decelerating. This is happening even though there are more products being developed and launched and the level of innovation is high. This creates an environment that is highly competitive yet increasingly squeezed. Drug delivery and packaging companies have an important role to play in today’s competitive environment to alleviate certain pressures on healthcare systems and benefit patients.
When we look at trends in innovation, we see that specialty medicines are key drivers of value growth. It is expected that most products launched in the next five years, approximately two thirds, will be in the specialty segment. Today, primary care is still the biggest segment by value, but specialty is predicted to be the dominant market in the future, with over 50% value share in most developed markets by 2023.
The top three leading therapy areas by list price value today are oncology, diabetes and autoimmune. Together they contribute to 68% of absolute positive global value growth. These are all therapy areas that have been revolutionised by biologics.
Biologics make up 32% of the global pharma Rx market value growing at 12% (10 Year CAGR) whilst small molecules still contribute most of the value at 68% but only growing at 4%. Looking ahead, we expect biologics to play an even bigger role globally as 45% of the pipeline today are biologics (Figure1).
Figure 1: Increasing importance of biologics
Trends in delivery mechanisms
The changing make-up of the prescription market is having direct implications for drug formulations, delivery and packaging. Whilst oral solids still account for 52% of value globally, as a result of the increasing importance of complex formulations, the injectables market value growth is strongest (10% CAGR).
Within injectables, pre-filled syringes, as well as pens and cartridges, are the fastest growing segments by value (14% CAGR). The strong growth of these types of injectables may be attributed to the convenience these delivery systems provide in the administration process. In comparison to intravenous infusions, they are quicker to prepare and administer as well as more convenient for patients. Fixed dose pre-filled syringes have the potential to alleviate pressures on hospitals increasingly struggling with infusion capacity. (Figure 2)
Figure 2: Trends in drug delivery and formulations
Industry needs and opportunities for the drug delivery and packaging industry
With more and more biologics coming to market, drug delivery and packaging companies must innovate to ensure these complex products, with very specific needs, will be delivered to patients safely. Compared to small molecules, biologics are harder to manufacture, keep and administer. This is where packaging, formulations and devices can play a key role; in addressing some of the challenges and help companies create differentiation in a highly competitive landscape.
Figure 3: Innovation in drug delivery, packaging & formulations can provide a range of benefits
Figure 3 outlines some of the benefits drug delivery, packaging and formulations can provide across the value chain, with some examples from the industry, ranging from increased shelf life, easier administration, to development solutions for pharmaceutical companies.
In an industry where highly specific, technical delivery challenges are prevalent, collaboration amongst companies is key. One example to this is the recent announcement that Schott and W. L. Gore & Associates will be collaborating to introduce silicone-free pre-fillable syringes. Silicone oil, a crucial component for the smooth administration of products has been shown to impact drug stability in a proportion of highly complex and sensitive biologics, and this new technology would replace it with a PTFE-lined plunger (1).
Another fruitful collaboration between two delivery system technology companies was for a drug development support kit (QuickStart ™) which is specifically designed for R&D labs. Along with the drug delivery systems, it also provides the quality and technical documentation required to verify sterilization to ensure regulatory requirements are met. (2)
The importance of focusing on the patient is increasingly recognised by companies and other stakeholders. Therefore, simple and patient centric solutions often provide a shortcut to navigating the complex stakeholder landscape. Drug delivery device companies with impressive technologies are increasingly collaborating with pharmaceutical and biotech companies to optimize patient experience. Digital integration and connectivity are trending features for drug delivery devices and aim to benefit not only patients but also healthcare providers. For example, they may be used for remote patient monitoring as part of a clinical trial.
Connectivity and improving patient experience through easy to use devices and technologies (e.g. discreet needle systems and designs) could also reduce the burden non-adherence has on the global healthcare system. As the sector is evolving, it is clear that the packaging industry will play a pivotal role in bringing value to the healthcare system and most importantly to patients.
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