In the last two years, the Covid-19 has monopolized almost all the spotlights. But not everything revolves around the virus that appeared at the end of 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan. This is demonstrated by the forecasts made by Evaluate Pharma on the investment in R&D that the pharmaceutical industry will make in 2022 and that position the oncology drugs at the center of their efforts.
The numbers talk for themselves. Only four companies will dedicate 4,710 million euros (5,345 million dollars) to investment in drugs against cancer. These are MSD, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche and AstraZeneca.
The drugs in which they will invest the most throughout this new year are already on the market, but the laboratories continue to investigate to expand their indications to different types of cancer.
Will be Keytrudethe medicine of MSDthe one that will attract the most investment, according to the figures provided by the consulting firm Evaluate Pharma in its report on forecasts for 2022. Specifically, the American pharmaceutical company will invest more than €1.76 billion (2,000 million dollars) to continue investigating the potential of this drug that is already on the market.
In addition, MSD’s cancer drug will be one of the best sellers in 2022, only behind Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine and AbbVie’s ‘best seller’, Humira.
Behind, Opdivoof BMS. In this case, the consultant foresees an expense of almost €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion). The third position is occupied by the oncologist of Roche, Tecentriq. The French will allocate 736 million euros (836 million dollars).
And fourthly, the AstraZeneca: Imfinzi. The Anglo-Swedish laboratory – developer of one of the vaccines against Covid-19 – will invest almost 713 million euros (809 million dollars) throughout 2022 to continue researching this drug to treat lung cancer.
So far, we have mentioned drugs that are already on the market but are still being worked on by pharmaceutical companies. But in 2022 investments of up to 490 million euros (555 million dollars) in new drugs are also planned.
This is the case of Tirzepatide, a drug for type 2 diabetes who is researching and developing Lilly and that it will be the one with the most investment this year.
Behind is Roche, which will allocate 331 million euros (376 million dollars) to investigate Gantenerumab, an antibody for patients with Alzheimer’s.
The podium is completed by MSD, with an investment of just over 310 million euros (352 million dollars) in its antiviral for HIVIslatravir.
An expensive process
The process to develop a medicine is long, since it takes between 10 and 13 years. And also expensive. In fact, the companies’ investment is about 2,500 million euros per drugaccording to the figures handled by Farmaindustria.
As far as the process is concerned, the first 6 years are spent discovering the molecule. The preclinical phase lasts about a year and the clinical trials between 6 and 7. After that, the review by the regulatory agencies and the production of the drug takes a maximum of two years.
Deadlines that have been shortened during the pandemic. This is the case of vaccines and the first medicines against Covid-19. The reason that the times have been lowered is due to the exceptional situation created by the health crisis.
In response, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is accelerating the authorization processes. However, this does not mean changes in the standards of quality, safety and efficacy.
Among the tools put in place by the EMA is the ongoing review, which has been applied in the different vaccines already approved and continues to be used now for medicines against Covid. In this way, companies can send the data as it becomes available and the agency begins to evaluate it without having to wait for the authorization request.