Almost 200 late-stage biologics are in the pipeline and the top five players will continue to dominate the biopharmaceutical market for some time to come.

That is the view of the latest report from Kalorama Information, the healthcare market research firm. It is predicting annual growth of 7.1% through 2015 for the biopharma market, which (excluding vaccines) is currently valued at $105.5 billion and accounting for nearly 20% of the total human medicines sector for 2010. This means it could be worth around $148.6 billion by 2015.

A majority of the aforementioned 200 biologics currently in development are aimed at the treatment of cancers, followed by cardiovascular diseases and autoimmune and hormone disorders. According to the report, monoclonal antibodies account for the largest share of the innovation, with nearly 30 new antibody compounds in the pipeline.

Kalorama's Bruce Carlson noted that "the Phase III pipelines are heavy in this area and that will keep growth up" at a time when the traditional pharmaceutical market is struggling to produce new treatments and its existing drugs are being battered by the loss of patent protection. The report's authors add that the biopharma market is being pretty much "spared the impact of this setback as the path to generic or biosimilar development is more involved" and copycat versions of biologics remain limited.

The analysis notes that five companies - Amgen, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Pfizer and Roche - will continue dominate the biopharma market. Combined, these firms hold over a quarter of the late-stage products, with Roche and Amgen leading the table; in 2010, the two enjoyed double-digit market shares.

Mr Carlson noted that "although a number of smaller companies are operating in this market, difficulties remain in overcoming the high cost of development".