Robust Oncology Pipeline Described

Published: Thursday, Apr 11, 2013

Oncology Projects by Stage

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Source: Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Oncology continues to lead all therapeutic areas in drug development research, with nearly 5500 of more than 17,000 projects in the works, according to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

Much of that research involves first-in-class medications, a recent PhRMA report indicates. Approximately 80% of the oncology projects in the preclinical phase represent such novel therapies.

Since many tumors become resistant to existing therapies, identifying novel molecular targets has led to an increased number of potential new drugs. For example, no new treatments for ovarian cancer have been approved by the FDA since 1996, yet as of December 2011, there were more than 120 new molecular entities in various stages of development for that disease, according to the report. New drugs are being explored in other similarly difficult-to-treat tumor types, including uterine cancer and small-cell lung cancer.

“Biopharmaceutical companies, working with other partners in the American research ecosystem, have made incredible progress in helping confront some of the most challenging and costly diseases facing patients around the world,” said John J. Castellani, president and CEO, PhRMA.

In the realm of personalized medicine, oncology also leads other therapeutic areas. From 1993 to 2008, approximately 56% of personalized medicine trials across all therapeutic areas were for various types of cancer.

When it comes to employing novel strategies, therapeutic cancer vaccines are another area where significant scientific breakthroughs have been made. According to the report, more than 20 cancer vaccines were in clinical development. Antibody- drug conjugates also represent promising novel cancer therapies, the report states.

“With more than 5,000 medicines in development for patients suffering from a wide range of diseases, there is a palpable excitement around the biopharmaceutical pipeline and the future opportunities for new, cutting-edge medicines to improve patient care and bring value to the entire US health care system,” Castellani noted.

The full report, entitled Innovation in the Biopharmaceutical Pipeline: A Multidimensional View, is available at

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