Annual global spending on oncology medicines reached $107 billion in 2015, up 11.5 percent from the previous year and up from $90 billion in 2011, according to a new IMS report.

The study, Global Oncology Trend Report: A Review of 2015 and Outlook to 2020, also notes that 70 new oncology drugs have been launched within developed countries in the past five years, for more than 20 different tumour types. However, most of these drugs are not yet available in most countries, and even when they are registered, they may not be reimbursed. For instance, only six countries – the US, Germany, UK, Italy, France and Canada – have access to more than half of the latest oncology therapies.

Annual global growth in the oncology drug market is expected to be 7.5-10.5 percent through 2020, reaching $150 billion. Wider utilisation of new products—especially immunotherapies—will drive much of the growth, offset by reduced use of some existing treatments with inferior clinical outcomes. Payers also are expected to tighten their negotiation stance with manufacturers and adopt new payment models in an effort to drive greater value from their expenditures on these drugs.

"The new science redefining cancer as a large number of narrowly defined diseases and yielding therapeutic options for an expanding number of patients is rapidly transforming the oncology treatment landscape," said Murray Aitken, IMS Health senior vice president and executive director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. "Most health systems are struggling to adapt and embrace this evolution – including the regulatory systems, skilled professionals, diagnostic and treatment infrastructures, and financing mechanisms that are required to serve the needs of cancer patients around the world.

"These challenges demand urgent attention in light of the strong near-term pipeline of clinically distinctive therapies, and new programs such as the US government's 'cancer moon shot' that are galvanising research efforts to change the trajectory of cancer."

Among the report's other findings are that the pipeline of oncology drugs in clinical development has expanded by more than 60 percent during the past decade, with almost 90 percent of the focus on targeted agents. More than 500 companies are actively pursuing oncology drug development around the world. Collectively, they are advancing nearly 600 new molecules through late-stage clinical development, most frequently for non-small cell lung cancer and breast, prostate, ovarian and colorectal cancers. Meanwhile, the median time from patent filing to approval for oncology drugs in 2015 was 9.5 years, down from 10.3 years in 2013.