The Spectacular, Brief Life of a Cure

The Spectacular, Brief Life of a Cure

Over the last decade, observers of the US pharmaceutical market witnessed something remarkable.

The anti-infective product category, which saw average annual revenue declines of 1.1% between 2007 and 2012, exploded 42% in 2013. Followed by another 64% in 2014 and another 24% in 2015. Then, just as sharply as revenues had taken off, 2016 recorded double-digit declines.

This epic climb and descent describes the product lifecycle for a new cure to an old, often-incurable disease.

Like an earthquake signifying the release of stored energy, and the calm that follows its exhaustion, such a cure triggers a release of pent-up demand and, by its very nature as a cure, reduction if not depletion of the patient pool.

This is the story of recent product introductions for the treatment of hepatitis C, beginning with the FDA’s December 2013 approval of sofosbuvir, marketed by Gilead Sciences under the brand name Sovaldi, for the treatment of hepatitis C.

New products including sofosbuvir act up to four times faster than previous standard treatment, peginterferon and ribavirin. These new products also improve sustained virologic response (cure rate, essentially) from 80% to 97%, including among patients who already tried traditional treatments. The new treatments cost twice as much as the old ones but, for many patients, the benefits far outweigh the expense. Over the course of treatment under old regimens, many patients experience a variety of adverse effects including flu-like symptoms and emotional disorders.

As a result, the pool of hepatitis C patients began to shrink even as competing product offerings entered the market. Naturally, the market quickly showed signs of stalling, with 2016 registering declines.

While the disruption caused to the hepatitis C market may pass, the pharmaceutical industry increasingly looks to flip established treatments on their ear with pipeline disruptors in areas like Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer.

Learn More

For more insights into the US pharmaceuticals market, see Pharmaceuticals: United States, a report published by the Freedonia Focus Reports division of The Freedonia Group. This report forecasts to 2021 US (including Puerto Rico) demand for pharmaceuticals for human use in nominal US dollars at the manufacturer level. Total demand is segmented by product in terms of:

  • compounded
  • biological

Compounded pharmaceutical demand is also segmented by therapeutic class as follows:

  • hormones and related
  • central nervous system
  • anti-infective
  • cardiovascular
  • respiratory
  • nutritional
  • digestive and genito-urinary
  • dermatological

To illustrate historical trends, total demand, trade, and the various segments are provided in annual series from 2006 to 2016.

Related Focus Reports include:

About the Author

Matthew is the Operations Manager of Freedonia Focus Reports. He has authored a variety of Focus Reports, which offer concise overviews of market size, product segmentation, business trends, and more.