Voyage to Mainstream

Pharmaceutical Executive, Pharmaceutical Executive-08-01-2022, Volume 42, Issue 8

Personalized medicine here to stay after massive uptick in 2021 approvals.

In a recent podcast, Greater Than One Chief Technology Officer Ken Winell joined us to discuss the metaverse and all it has to offer the pharma industry. During that conversation, Winell referenced the classic sci-fi adventure Fantastic Voyage. The book and film, both released in 1966, center on a group of five people who are shrunk down to travel in a miniature submarine through a man’s bloodstream. Their mission is to destroy the blood clot in his brain in order to save the world.

Winell offered the example of using the metaverse to get a 360-degree view of a patient to determine the best way to treat a tumor. But today’s precision, or personalized, medicine is an even better illustration of how the underlying idea of this story is quickly becoming a reality. With the increase of obtaining genetic information, healthcare professionals are able to make better informed decisions on how to best treat individual patients. And sometimes those medicines even mimic the essence of Fantastic Voyage—using medicines instead of people that know exactly which areas of the body to target.

Personalized medicine is no longer the fabric of science fiction. According to Statista, in 2015, the global personalized medicine market was valued at around $1.26 billion; today, that number stands at $2.77 billion. In 2010, there were just 36 personalized medicines available in the US; in 2020, there were 286.

Seventeen of the 48 new molecular entities approved by FDA in 2021 are personalized medicines across a variety of therapeutic areas. They include Cabenuva (cabotegravir and rilpivirine), for the treatment of HIV; Vyvgart (efgartigimod alfa-fcab), for the treatment of generalized myasthenia gravis; and Leqvio (inclisiran), for the treatment heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia or clinical atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

But the therapeutic area most invested in advancing this type of medicine is clearly oncology. As of 2015, Statista reported personalized therapies represented 73% of cancer drugs in development. This compared with only a 42% share in all other therapy classes. From chronic myeloid leukemia to non-small cell lung cancer to cholangiocarcinoma to endometrial cancer, the effects of personalized medicine are being felt throughout oncology.

As you can glean from our coverage this month, this category of medicines is expected to flourish in the years ahead. Advancements in technology and data gathering will only lend to its growth. Figuring out better pricing and access strategies will be two of the greatest matters to address.

Finally, getting back to the Pharmaceutical Executive podcast, I’d like to mention that we recently were recognized with an Apex Award of Excellence. The biweekly podcast, which was launched in 2018, invites industry executives, such as Winell, to share their stories and insights about their career paths, current challenges and successes, and opportunities for growth in pharma. The podcast is co-hosted by Pharm Exec’s group social media editor, Miranda Schmalfuhs, and me, and we are excited to have achieved this honor.

In addition to the Pharm Exec podcast, the Applied Clinical Trials and Pharmaceutical Commerce podcasts offer similar coverage, so while you’re traveling, exercising, or relaxing this month, tune it for some engaging conversation.

Elaine Quilici is Pharm Exec’s Editor-in-Chief. She can be reached at equilici@mjhlifesciences.com.