Dr Manu Jaggi, vice president, Dabur Research Foundation
Q: What kind of growth are you expecting in the oncology market? Which are the factors that are expected to propel the same?
The Indian oncology market is forecast to grow strongly in the next decade, driven by the rise in cancer incidence and diagnosis, improved access to cancer therapies, better health insurance coverage, and higher pharmaceutical spending, particularly among the growing middle class. Since cancer is the second largest cause of death in the country, the Indian market is characterized by a huge demand for cancer drugs. It is a highly fragmented market with a large number of foreign and domestic players. The Indian Government, on its part is taking initiatives to work out public-private partnership projects (PPP) and reduce the essential drug prices. The increase in government expenditure on health and improved access to cancer drugs will also drive the uptake of cancer therapeutics in the future.
Q: Will the biologics and targeted therapy as predicted really grow faster than chemotherapy? What are the latest trends in these two areas?
The global cancer market is going to be driven by the biologics. These drugs that are now appearing on the market are just the first wave of new anti-cancer therapies. The repertoire will expand rapidly over the next five years as more targets are identified. Some of the newest and most promising areas of cancer treatment are biologic therapies and other so-called "targeted" therapies. Since cancer cells divide and grow at an abnormal rate, biological therapy focuses on blocking the signal that tells the cancer cells to grow. Another feature of cancer cells is that they often override apoptosis and become "immortal." Targeted therapies can tell the cancer cells to undergo apoptosis. Targeted therapies can also make the cancer cells more recognizable to our own immune system, which can then seek out and destroy the abnormal cells. However, caution must also be exerted as biologically targeted drugs are primarily cytostatic as opposed to cytotoxic, and therefore, sometimes fail as monotherapy.
Next decade will see more combination therapies where biologics will be combined with chemotherapy to achieve a better response rate.