Global spending on cancer drugs topped $100 billion last year, rising 10.3% over 2013 and well above $75 billion back in 2010, according to IMS Health's Global Oncology Trend Report.

The figures show that the US continues to dominate the oncology market, representing 42.2% of the total spend, followed by Europe’s five biggest markets - Germany, France, Britain, Spain and Italy. But the latter nations are spending more of their budget on cancer drugs than the US, with 14.7% of the total compared to 11.3%, respectively.

IMS’ report also shows a global compound average growth rate of 6.5% over the past five years (on a constant exchange rate basis), and forecasts future spending on oncology medicines through 2018 to be in the 6%-8% range, as rising demand and new therapy options are partially offset by new competition from biosimilars and small molecule generics.

Unsurprisingly, spend on targeted therapies continues to grow, now accounting for almost 50% of the cancer total spending and, going forward, immunooncology has been singled out as an area experiencing “significant investment and experimentation” that is “likely nowhere near its potential clinical and commercial peak”. 

The last five years has seen the launch of 45 new cancer drugs for 53 uses, including 10 new medicines last year, five of which were biologic therapies and two immunotherapies. However, the availability of new medicines varies widely across the major developed countries. The widest access was observed in the US, Germany and the UK, but less than half of the new cancer drugs launched globally in the last five years were available to patients in Japan, Spain and South Korea.

Crucially, the report found that cancer survival rates have “steadily improved” over the last 20 years. In the US,  two-thirds of those diagnosed with cancer now live at least five years, compared to just over half in 1990, because of the availability of new medicines as well as increased screening, earlier detection and advances in surgical and radiation oncology.