US drug giant Pfizer wants a massive increase in sales of cancer drugs by 2018 to sustain growth.
The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that cancer rates will increase markedly over the next few decades and cause the death of 11.4 million people in 2030, meaning that demand for new treatments will grow.
Additionally, according to IMS Health cancer drugs generated revenues of nearly $50bn (EUR35.4bn) last year, up just over 11 per cent on the previous year, making it one of the most lucrative parts of the pharmaceutical market.
At present, Pfizer is the world’s seventh largest manufacturer of cancer drugs with annual sales of around $2.5bn, but this is not good enough according to Andreas Penk, president of the firm’s European oncology division.
He told Bloomberg that: “We want to be in the top three in 2018,” adding that “during this time we want to increase our sales by about 10 times.”
Pfizer has around 25 cancer drugs in human trials and has, since 2007, spent around 20 per cent of its annual research budget on the development of novel cancer therapies.
However to achieve the level of growth it is aiming for the firm will have to invest an even bigger chunk of its R&D fund into cancer drugs and hope that its fairly poor recent development track record does not continue.
In March Pfizer stopped a Phase III of Sutent (sunitinib) in a relatively form of pancreatic cancer trial ahead of schedule after the drug provided patients with ”significant benefits” over comparator therapies.
The following month, a late-stage study in breast cancer was abandoned after Sutent failed to demonstrate superiority as a standalone treatment to Xeloda (capecitabine) made by Swiss rival Roche.
And just last month the firm pulled the plug on a Phase III trial of its drug Sutent in colon cancer after it failed to demonstrate improved clinical efficacy over standard chemotherapy.