Highlights of the pharmaceutical industry in 2014 include a spate of mergers and acquisitions, as big companies look to buy up smaller operations with innovative products. A renewed emphasis on research and development also was a notable development in 2014, as a number of companies approach what has been called a patent cliff, where patents on a number of drugs expire.
Here are a few outstanding trends noted for this year.
Surge in biologic drugs.
These are drugs that incorporate living matter as part of their make-up, such as living cells, bacteria and yeast. They are more complex than chemical drugs, and in 2014 pharmaceutical companies made a major push in the production of these biologic medications.
- There are more than 900 different types of biologic drugs in various stages of development in the United States right now.
- These drugs treat conditions such as cancer and different types of auto-immune disorders like psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Rise of anti-infective drugs.
These types of drugs treat disorders such as Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS. For example, drug maker Gilead Sciences produces a Hepatitis C drug called Sovaldi, which can cure the disease. Other anti-infectives include treatments for infections that patients get in hospitals from Gram-negative bacteria. Another very successful anti-infective is the vaccine Gardasil, which is used to treat human papilloma virus.
Emphasis on generics.
This emphasis is the result of the impending expiration of a number of drug patents, which are said to account for some $50 billion in sales. This wave of patent expirations is also driving renewed pushes in research and development.
Push for immunotherapies.
These are drugs that work to stimulate the body’s own immune system to attack disease-causing pathogens, as opposed to the traditional kinds of drugs where active chemicals in the drug do the heavy lifting.
- Immunotherapies are especially promising for the treatment of cancer, because they can fight the disease without affecting healthy tissue, as most other forms of treatment now do. And they don’t have the side effects that other forms of treatment have as well.
- There is a lot of hype surrounding these drugs. Researchers say they could lead to major advances in the treatment of cancer.
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