HIV drug market faces slowdown

June 1, 2003

Pharmaceutical Representative

The global market for antiretroviral HIV drugs will experience a gradual medium-term decline, according to Datamonitor.

"The global HIV market is witnessing a slowdown in growth rate, with a 1998 revenue growth of 34%, compared to an estimated 14% in 2002," said Dheeraj Khiytani, senior HIV analyst at Datamonitor. "The reasons for this are multifold, but include a possible saturation of currently treated patient populations, the introduction of combination products and the limited number of currently marketed antiretrovirals. Many physicians are moving towards using novel treatment strategies such as structured treatment interruptions, drug holidays and delayed onset to treatment – all to minimize drug toxicity and avoid patient overexposure."

Keys to market growth

The development of biological resistance to currently marketed drugs is a contributing factor in the decline in market growth for antiretrovirals. According to Datamonitor, this will encourage physicians to turn to novel therapeutics such as the fusion inhibitors and integrase inhibitors to provide alternative treatment avenues. "Without novel strategies to target the significant untapped patient pool, the current HIV market will gradually reach saturation," Khiytani said.

Because of the relatively undeveloped state of the market, Datamonitor claims that drugs within novel classes that are launched successfully will experience healthy uptake, regardless of position of entry. This would provide larger players in the market with options to in-license drugs that are currently being developed by smaller biotechnology companies, or to seek joint ventures with competitors to consolidate resources and improve profitability.

Drug manufacturers can further counter HIV market erosion by developing strategies to improve drug-related toxic side effects and dosing profiles, which would likely result in increased patient compliance. PR

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