Biologic Drugs, Biosimilars to Drive Future Dermatology Spending


There are nearly 1000 products in development for dermatological conditions.

The dermatology pipeline treats patients with more than 3000 conditions, including acne and autoimmune conditions. A new report conducted by GBI Research found that the dermatology market will be driven by an increase in biologic drugs reaching the market over the next few years.

Over the past decade, a majority of treatments for dermatologic conditions have become generics. During this time, there has also been a flood of newly-approved drugs that are largely composed of small molecules.

There are significant unmet needs for safer and more effective treatments for patients with these conditions, according to the report. Patients treated with current drugs may experience issues with adherence and safety.

“In contrast with the market, the dermatology pipeline is highly diverse in terms of molecule type,” said Jennifer Goossens, associate analyst for GBI Research. “Small molecules continue to dominate over half of the pipeline, while biologics represent over a third, and around 10% are made up of a range of rarer molecule types including cell therapies, gene therapies, and synthetic peptides.”

The authors of the study project that biologics and biosimilars will begin to drive prescriptions for the conditions, especially monoclonal antibodies (mAbs).

“While mAbs have started to establish their market presence, gene therapies, vaccines, and cell therapies are not yet well established in the dermatology market,” Goossens said. “A particularly high degree of diversity is seen at the discovery and preclinical stages, at which mAbs, proteins, oligonucleotides, and synthetic peptides account for a considerable proportion of the pipeline.”

An increased understanding of the inflammatory mechanisms that cause skin conditions has led to the creation of targeted biologic drugs, according to the study. These drugs may target pro-inflammatory cytokines or other inflammatory molecules.

For conditions such as psoriasis, biologics are a main treatment option. The clinical success of the drugs increased interest in that class of drugs for other skin conditions, the authors wrote.

“This is reflected in the various biologics currently in the pipeline for major skin disorders, for which there is a significant unmet need in patients with moderate to severe conditions,” Goossens said. “Biologics represent over a third of pipeline molecules, despite only accounting for a small fraction of the marketed products landscape, where they are vastly outnumbered by small molecules.

Biologics and other specialty drugs have caused a significant increase in spending on prescription drugs. Another study found that specialty medications accounted for 1.8% of drugs prescribed in 2014, yet accounted for 43.2% of total drug spending.

As biologic drugs continue to grow in prevalence in the dermatology space, it is likely that spending will also increase, according to the current study.

It is also likely that biosimilars will become more prevalent in dermatology, the authors wrote. These drugs have the same active ingredients as the reference biologic product, but carry a less costly price tag.

Currently, there are 197 first-in-class pipeline products being created for dermatological conditions. This represents 32% of the 617 pipeline products that are targeted, according to the report. In total, there are nearly 1000 products in development. Many of these experimental drugs show promise in treating various conditions.

“This strong presence could have a considerable impact on treatment algorithms in the dermatology therapy area, according to GBI Research,” Gossens concluded. “For example, the first biologic for the major dermatological disease atopic dermatitis, Dupixent (dupilumab), was approved by the FDA on 28 March 2017 and is expected to signal the start of a new trend for biologics in the dermatology space.”

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