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Report: SLE Drug Market Will Grow Dramatically Over Next Decade

Growth fueled by continued uptake of Benlysta and entry of other biologics (October 30)

Decision Resources, a research and advisory firm located in Burlington, Mass., finds that the systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) market will grow dramatically over the next decade from approximately $900 million in 2012 to $4 billion in 2022 in the U.S., Europe, and Japan.

The report also finds that Benlysta (belimumab, GlaxoSmithKline), the first approved biologic for the treatment of SLE, will be the primary driver of market growth throughout the forecast period, with sales in 2022 of $1.1 billion. However, physicians’ perceptions of the drug’s modest efficacy, slow onset of action, and restrictive label (which does not include patients with severe, active renal and central nervous system disease) leave an opportunity for emerging agents with better efficacy profiles and acceptable safety to gain market share.

In the B-cell modulator class alone, the anticipated entry of epratuzumab (UCB), tabalumab (Eli Lilly), and blisibimod (Anthera Pharmaceuticals) will drive sales of $1.1 billion by 2022, accounting for almost 30% of total SLE sales, the report predicts. Although concerns regarding safety will initially limit their uptake, as physicians gain experience towards the end of the forecast period, these new agents may see use ahead of Benlysta. As a class, the B-cell modulators will account for 65% of total market sales in 2022.

The report also finds that the uptake of Orencia (abatacept, Bristol-Myers Squibb) for the treatment of lupus nephritis, beginning in 2018, will be a significant driver of SLE market growth. The drug’s patient share in 2022 will be modest; however, the anticipated high price of the 30-mg/kg dose being tested in phase III trials will drive its sales to account for approximately 19% of total SLE sales in 2022.

“Benlysta has received a lukewarm reception to the SLE market owing primarily to physician perceptions of its modest efficacy, slow onset to action, and inability to be used in the high unmet-need population of patients with severe, life-threatening organ involvement,” said analyst Laura Croal, PhD. “Owing to its high price in a largely generic market, Benlysta will lead market sales in 2022 on the strengths of its excellent safety profile, demonstrated efficacy in pivotal trials, and first-to-market advantage. However, the drug will be vulnerable to emerging agents with acceptable safety profiles that demonstrate improvements in these key perceived weaknesses.”

Source: Decision Resources; October 30, 2013.

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