16 May Alzheimer's drug market to hit $5.5 billion by 2009, study says
Toronto-based Millennium Research Group predicts the Alzheimer’s disease drug market in the United States, Europe and Japan will grow by 15 percent annually for the next five years.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers profiled in Millennium’s study, entitled “Global Markets for Alzheimer’s Disease Medications 2005,” include Pfizer, Shire Pharmaceuticals and Novartis, marquee names in an Alzheimer’s drug market that generated more than $1.3 billion last year in the U.S. alone, according to Millennium. Last year, the global market – the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Japan) for Alzheimer’s medications generated revenues of over $2.6 billion, the report says.
Alzheimer’s research is the focus of a major new Marshfield Clinic study and the raison d’etre of Madison-based Mithridion, which recently sprung out of a study led by UW-Madison researcher Jeff Johnson that identified an amino acid-peptide sequence that encourages a protective response in the brain against Alzheimer’s. The technology is patented by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
The Millennium report forecasts that Eisai/Pfizer’s Aricept will continue to dominate the Alzheimer’s drug market and predicts strong growth of memantine-based drugs such as Forest Laboratories’ Namenda. While market-leading drugs, notably Aricept, have been effective in treating symptoms of Alzheimer’s, the medical world generally agrees that disease modification and prevention remain the major unmet needs.
“What doctors want to see is something that modifies the progression of the disease,” said Naissan Vahman, a senior analyst at Millennium who helped assemble the report. “Some of the drugs in the pipeline are focused on trying to get disease modification. Some of the companies have targeted very specific scientific mechanisms to do that.”
Mithridion is hoping to be one of those companies in five to seven years, according to Johnson.
“There are a number of efforts to identify new approaches that actually treat the pathological process,” Johnson noted. “That’s in essence what we’ re doing.
“We’re right at the peak of the wave with this,” he said. “It seems like the right time and the right place. We hopefully have a novel and right idea. It’s still really early, but I think there is great potential.”
The prescription drug market worldwide last year was worth $550 billion – $248 billion in North America alone, according to Connecticut-based IMS Health. With 10 percent of people 65 and older in the U.S. already suffering from Alzheimer’s and the Baby Boomers beginning to hit that age milestone in 2010, Millennium forecasts call for the Alzheimer’s drug market to grow from $3 billion this year to $5.5 billion in 2009.
“I think people are finally coming to grips with the potential economic cost [of Alzheimer’s care],” Johnson said. “It’s staggering … the rate at which this will increase over the next 20 to 30 years.”