A new report by IQVIA has found that a record number of cancer drugs were launched in the US in 2018 across 17 indications.

The ‘Global Oncology Trends 2019: Therapeutics, Clinical Development and Health System Implications’ report also shows that 15 new active substances (NASs) were were launched across the year, bringing the total NAS launches since 2013 to 57, with 89 approved indications for 23 different tumour types.

Data revealed that within the R&D oncologic pipeline, the most intense activity is for immunotherapies, with as many as 450 in clinical development and a total of 1,170 oncology clinical trials were initiated in 2018, an increase of 27% from 2017 and 68% from 2013.

The Institute report also explores health system barriers hindering the realisation of the benefits of those therapies and drug candidates, and further notes that despite extensive pipeline activity, oncology remains the most challenging area for research and development, facing significant risk of failure and long, costly development.

“Within oncology therapeutic development, the notable successes and failures in recent years have furthered our understanding of the underlying causes of certain cancers, disease progression, and the potential for novel treatments,” commented Murray Aitken, IQVIA senior vice president and executive director of the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science.

“However, barriers to adoption of new drugs remain, delaying patient benefit from treatment advances. As treatment options increase, the impact on spending levels has become a focus across most parts of the world – a trend that is expected to continue during the next five years as growth continues.”

The study was produced independently by IQVIA as a public service, without industry or government funding and addresses shifts in therapy use, as new immunotherapies are adopted as first-line treatments, Next-Generation Therapeutics such as CAR-T therapies become available, and biosimilars are developed and introduced.