Stivarga tipped to lead in China’s growing colorectal cancer market

A number of new treatments for colorectal cancer (CRC) are set to benefit from growing demand in China – but only those with trials conducted in the country will benefit.

Research and consulting firm GlobalData forecasts that China’s market will expand almost fourfold from an estimated $259 million in 2013 to $1.05 billion by 2023, at an impressive 15.1 per cent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), according to the analysts.

Four new drugs are expected to be launched in China in this period: Amgen/Takeda’s Vectibix, Bayer’s Stivarga, Sanofi’s Zaltrap, and Taiho Pharmaceutical’s Lonsurf, with Bayer’s drug expected to come out on top.

These agents are forecast to earn combined revenues of $334 million in 2023, representing 32 per cent of China’s CRC market.

Fenix Leung, DPhil, GlobalData’s analyst covering Oncology and Haematology says: “Stivarga is expected to be the clear market leader of these drugs, with peak-year sales of $291 million expected in 2023. This will follow its label extension as an adjuvant treatment for CRC patients with resected liver metastases and prior chemotherapy neoadjuvant/adjuvant treatment.”

The biggest-selling patented drug in CRC worldwide and in China is currently Roche’s Avastin, but will see its patent expire in the US in 2019 and in 2022 in Europe. A number of biosimilar versions are now in late state development, and will be ready for launch when the drug’s key patents expire.

GlobalData says China will become the third largest global market for CRC treatment behind the US and Japan, the increase in demand driven by increasing disease incidence in urban populations, rising numbers of people covered by private health insurance and improved access to branded biologicals.

Fenix Leung says growth will be held back by Avastin’s expiry, as well as slower uptake of drugs currently in pharma’s pipelines.

“There is often a delay in new drug launches in China relative to the US, Europe and Japan, due to an extended approval process by the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA),” says Leung.

He adds: “For drugs that have not undergone clinical trials in Chinese patients prior to their application submission, the CFDA can require additional safety studies to be conducted in China before accepting a registration application.”

Boehringer Ingelheim’s nintedanib, Lilly’s Cyramza, and Biothera’s Imprime PGG are all examples of drugs which haven’t undergone clinical trials in China, which means these companies are not expected to launch their drugs in China before 2023.

GlobalData says these drugs are likely to be superseded by treatments with novel mechanisms, such as those targeting BRAF mutation-positive disease and immune checkpoint inhibitors, and these are likely to offer more substantial improvement in delaying the progression of CRC and extending overall survival.

Read the GlobalData summary here.


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