A new value-based approach to the pricing of branded medicines A consultation

The global market for drugs to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is set to grow 14% a year on average to 2019, and Ironwood/Forest/Almirall/Astellas’s linaclotide will emerge as market leader, a new study has forecast.

Linaclotide’s success will be due to its “its superb efficacy, acceptable safety profile and anticipated launch in all major markets,” according to the study, which is published by Decision Resources. The authors project that, in 2019, the product will garner blockbuster sales of $1.1 billion in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK and the US.

Last year, Sucampo/Takeda/Abbott’s Amitiza (lubiprostone) was the top-selling drug used in the treatment of IBS, but the study authors believe that this drug’s limited efficacy and loss of patent protection, plus competition from linaclotide, will cause its sales to decline sharply during the period to 2019.

The forecast 14% average annual growth overallfor sales of drugs to treat the condition to 2019 will be driven by the market entry of much-needed, first-in-class therapies, according to the study, which also notes that, because of the heterogeneity of IBS and the high rate of generic penetration, the market for drug treatments is currently highly fragmented and underserved.

The lack of prescription therapies that can address more than one symptom of the disease means that physicians and patients resort to using multiple drugs, many of which are inadequate at controlling motility or pain symptoms associated with IBS, they say. Additionally, because of the combination of high prevalence of IBS and low diagnosis rates, substantial commercial potential exists for the development of drugs that target this indication.  

“IBS is a highly prevalent chronic condition in the world’s major pharmaceutical markets, but the lack of a biochemical or histological marker for positive diagnosis and incomplete understanding of the disease’s pathophysiology and etiology have resulted in low diagnosis and treatment rates,” comments Decision Resources analyst Iva Holder. “The limited number of efficacious treatment options suggests significant opportunity for new IBS therapies,” Dr Holder adds.