mAbs: A business perspective


The twenty two monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) currently marketed in the U.S. have captured almost half of the top-20 U.S. therapeutic biotechnology sales for 2007. Eight of these products have annual sales each of more than $1 B, were developed in the relatively short average period of six years, qualified for FDA programs designed to accelerate drug approval, and their cost has been reimbursed liberally by payers. With growth of the product class driven primarily by advancements in protein engineering and the low probability of generic threats, mAbs are now the largest class of biological therapies under development. The high cost of these drugs and the lack of generic competition conflict with a financially stressed health system, setting reimbursement by payers as the major limiting factor to growth. Advances in mAb engineering are likely to result in more effective mAb drugs and an expansion of the therapeutic indications covered by the class. The parallel development of biomarkers for identifying the patient subpopulations most likely to respond to treatment may lead to a more cost-effective use of these drugs. To achieve the success of the current top-tier mAbs, companies developing new mAb products must adapt to a significantly more challenging commercial environment.

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mAbs: A business perspective