The world market for drugs to treat osteoporosis is set to rise from a value of $7.3 billion in 2010 to $11.4 billion by 2015, according to new forecasts.

The world market will grow by a yearly average of 9.2% during the period, according to the report, which is published by Transparency Market Research. The study also expects the market in China for osteoporosis treatments to increase by an annual average of 13.5% from 2010 to 2015, reaching a value of  $2.5 billion by the end of the period.

Currently, the global osteoporosis drugs market is dominated by the bisphosphonate class, with Roche's Bonviva/Boniva (ibandronic acid) and Novartis' Aclasta/Zometa (zoledronate) accounting for healthy market shares and showing an average sales growth rate of about 20% in the past two years, according to the study.

Amgen's Prolia (denosumab) is the most recent entrant to the osteoporosis treatment market, following approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Commission, and is expected to compete directly with the bisphosphonate products, although its initial uptake is likely to be in second-line therapy, mostly in patients who are intolerant to these treatments, says the report. However, after this year, growth in the drug's use is expected to lead to a decline in the market for parathyroid hormone and selective oestrogen receptor modulator (SERM) drugs used in the treatment of osteoporosis, it notes, and  goes on to point out that there is also substantial potential for Prolia in the treatment of bone loss in cancer patients.  

Sales of the drug are expected to reach $3.5 billion in 2015, it says.

Drugmakers have various promising osteoporosis treatment candidates in R&D, including a number of first-in-class products currently in Phase III. Among these are Merck & Co’s cathepsin K (cat-K) inhibitor odanacatib, which possesses a novel mechanism of action against osteoporosis, and Pfizer's Aprela, which combines the SERM bazedoxifene with conjugated equine oestrogens.

The anticipated fast growth of the market in China will largely be due to the increasing prevalence of osteoporosis among the female population, as well as the growing elderly population, rising standards of living and increasing awareness of, and education in, bone health.

Therefore, the report sees huge growth potential for osteoporosis drug treatments in many Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Hangzhou.

Drug developers can obtain market advantages by developing cost-competitive drugs with easy dosage patterns which effectively promote bone-building, as many patients find it difficult to comply with the strict dosage schedules of traditional drug treatments, the report advises. They should also work to address unmet needs in the market by developing treatments that combine convenient dosing schedules with efficacy and safety profiles which represents improvements over currently-available products, it adds.