Editor's Focus: Topic of cancer

After several editorials that have been somewhat (or more than somewhat) critical of certain aspects of the pharma and biotech business, DDNews' chief editor shares some good news in the world of oncology therapeutics

Jeffrey Bouley
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First off, apologies to cartographers and geography professionals—or maybe to Henry Miller, whose novel “Tropic of Cancer” I never have gotten around to reading—for the headline of my editorial this month.
Second, it occurs to me that I’m about two issues past the point at which I should have done a retrospective study of my editorials since taking the chief editor helm at the beginning of this year. Aside from January and July, which were softballs—introducing myself and inviting you to join us on social media venues, respectively—it occurs to me that perhaps I’ve been a bit of a curmudgeon.
Nothing wrong with that, but since one of my editorials noted that too much of a good thing can still be bad, perhaps I should go into a more upbeat mode before it begins to look like all I have to do is lecture pharmas and biotechs and grumble about kids playing on my lawn.
So, instead of pointing out what’s wrong or what’s troubling me in the land of discovery, development, trials and diagnostics, how about I share some upbeat news with you from my inbox?
And, since one of my editorials this year suggested perhaps we’ve put too many of our eggs in the oncology basket rather than the antibiotic basket (or other deserving egg containment and transport devices), let me say some good things about what’s happening in cancer therapeutics. Those cancer stories we write are the most popular reads by far each month anyway.
Here goes…
From Datamonitor comes word that pipeline immunotherapies are showing a lot of promise for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The NSCLC market in the United States, Japan and five major EU markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) is currently worth $7 billion, and targeted antibody therapies “are expected to see increasing uptake as they continue to demonstrate efficacy against well-defined patient subgroups and reduce systemic toxicity,” according to the firm. Nivolumab from Bristol-Myers Squibb, pembrolizumab from Merck & Co. and MPDL3280A from Roche—all of which target the PD-1 signaling pathway—should be first to market for this modality, with nivolumab out of the starting gate in 2015.
“Although to date no immunotherapies have proven to be both safe and effective enough for use in non-small cell lung cancer, these three drugs have produced exciting results in early-stage clinical trials, which is very encouraging,” writes Hardik Patel, an analyst at Datamonitor Healthcare. “These immunotherapies target pathways regulating the activity of T-cells in an attempt to stimulate targeted immune responses against tumor cells. This class of drugs has huge commercial potential and could significantly change the way we treat non-small cell lung cancer.”
From another market-watching and analysis firm, Decision Resources, comes word that the market for cancer immunotherapy in major world markets is set to grow from a value of $1.1 billion in 2012 to nearly $9 billion in 2022, soaring by an annual average of 23.8 percent. And all of this is propelled by a mere nine therapies expected to enter the market in new oncology indications and/or patient populations. That growth will be seen mostly in the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Japan (Hey, didn’t we just talk about them with that other cancer immunotherapy news? At least everyone seems to agree where the growth is), and the new treatments are expected to include four novel immune checkpoint inhibitors and five novel therapeutic vaccines.
Oh, heck, we’ve gone with two analyst firms so far, so how about a third?
From Leerink Partners comes word that the lung cancer panel at Leerink’s Healthcare Insights Conference supported the firm’s assumption that, together, immuno-oncology and targeted therapies can drive up the value of the lung cancer market to $18 billion by 2020.
Leerink said a lot more about specific companies, trends and predictions in their July 10 email on “Investment insights from the lung cancer panel,” but frankly, I’m out of room.
Besides, with something as generally disheartening as cancer—especially lung cancer, which did in both my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law in recent years—I’m surprised I’ve kept the upbeat going and the grumpy-old-man-in-training at bay this long.
I don’t want to push my luck. I might have some positivity left in me for next month’s editorial.

For more cancer research news and features, visit our dedicated cancer website at www.ddncancer.com

Jeffrey Bouley

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