Those concerned about chemistry’s future in the pharmaceutical industry were undoubtedly alarmed when the French giant Sanofi bragged recently that 72% of its drug discovery and development projects these days are in biologics.
Biologics are hot. Sales are growing at close to 10% per year, and biologics represent nine of the top 20 pharmaceuticals by sales, according to the market research firm EvaluatePharma. Companies such as Sanofi are investing more and more research money in them. Traditional small-molecule drugs seem to be left in the dust.
But in a recent webinar, executives from the pharmaceutical chemical firm Cambrex and Jan Ramakers Fine Chemical Consulting Group made the case that, even if it no longer dominates the headlines, small-molecule pharmaceutical chemistry continues to thrive.
Crunching numbers from EvaluatePharma and IMS Health, the two firms pointed out that the number of small molecules on the global pharmaceutical market will grow from 3,005 in 2013 to 3,552 in 2020. Small molecules’ share of the drug market is down—to 84% in 2013 from 87% in 2009—but sales continue to grow.
Indeed, 33 of the 41 drugs cleared for marketing by the Food & Drug Administration last year were small molecules or peptides. In 2013, fully 24 of the 27 drugs approved were small molecules.
And as drug companies shift their focus to discovery and marketing, manufacturing of those small molecules will increasingly be carried out by service firms such as Cambrex.
Cambrex’s largest customer is Gilead Sciences, the marketer of Sovaldi, a hepatitis C drug that was the top-selling small-molecule drug in 2014.
The pages that follow contain three stories of the relationship between a custom manufacturing firm and its drug industry partner. The molecules involved range from preclinical to just approved by FDA. But they are all for life-threatening diseases, and they are all the product of chemistry.
Jump to Topics:
– CASE STUDY 1: Staying Connected
Cerus and Ash Stevens partner over many years to make an active agent for purifying blood
– CASE STUDY 2: Seeking Perfection
Taiwan’s TaiGen mandates that its contract manufacturing partners achieve 99.8% purity
– CASE STUDY 3: Evolving Science
Novogen returns to Regis for a second go at developing a cancer drug
Source: Chemical & Engineering News