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SLE Drug Market Expected to Grow Dramatically by 2021

Benlysta (belimumab) will be key player (Oct. 24)

Decision Resources, a research company based in Burlington, Mass., predicts that, in the systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) drug marketplace, Benlysta (belimumab injection, Human Genome Sciences/GlaxoSmithKline) will be the market leader in 2021, with sales of more than $1.7 billion in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan. Benlysta’s position as the first agent approved for SLE in more than 50 years, its perceived favorable safety profile, and its efficacy in clinical trials are expected to drive uptake of the drug.

The company also finds that the overall SLE market will grow dramatically, from approximately $691 million in 2011 to $3.9 billion in 2021. The market will see the entry of several different B-cell inhibitors —including tabalumab (Eli Lilly), epratuzumab (UCB/Immunomedics), and blisibimod (Anthera Pharmaceuticals) — that will compete for market share and that could ultimately occupy specific niches in SLE treatment, based on factors such as route of administration, onset of action, and efficacy.

Moreover, the T-cell modulator forigerimod (ImmuPharma/SymBio Pharmaceuticals) is expected to launch in 2016 in the U.S. and in 2017 in most European countries for SLE and will compete for the same patients as the B-cell inhibitors. Through 2021, it is anticipated that forigerimod will be used most commonly in patients who have failed at least two B-cell– targeted agents.

The company says that, in 2011, the SLE market was largely generic and included significant off-label use. The off-label use of two high-priced agents — the biologic rituximab (Rituxan, Biogen Idec/Roche; and MabThera, Roche) and the immunosuppressant mycophenolate mofetil (Cellcept, Roche/Galenica; and generics) — generated the majority of sales in 2011.

“Rituximab will achieve peak-year sales of approximately $387 million in 2017,” said analyst Laura Croal, PhD. “Its uptake will be driven primarily by its use for lupus nephritis and SLE manifestations that are refractory to current treatments. In 2021, the B-cell modulators will account for more than three-quarters of SLE sales.”

Source: Decision Resources, October 24, 2012.

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