Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of autoimmune arthritis. It is estimated to affect around 5 million people, and anyone can develop the disease; but it is most common among women in their middle age- although men, children, and young adults can also get it. Genes, environment, and hormones are likely to lead to rheumatoid arthritis. Approximately 1 in every 5 people who suffer from the disease get lumps called rheumatoid nodules on their skin. As with other forms of arthritis, it is also common to experience joint pain, stiffness, decreased movement of the joins, and swelling.
How will the market grow?
If you or a loved one suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, there's definitely reason to be hopeful, because better treatment may be around the corner! The rheumatoid arthritis market is projected to skyrocket in the next few years due to an ever-increasing demand for higher-quality medical facilities and more effective drugs. The United States has the largest number of rheumatoid arthritis patients, so they will be leading the way in growing the global rheumatoid arthritis market along with France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, and Japan. But, specifically, how is the market going to grow? It is projected that there will be increasing competition from anti-IL6 drugs, the launch of interleukin (IL)-6 inhibitors, heightened relevant rheumatoid arthritis cases, increased FDA approvals of drugs used for treatment, more use of complementary and alternative medicines, earlier diagnoses and treatment, and continued uptake of biosimilars for biologics already on the market. In essence, both demand and supply of rheumatoid arthritis drugs and treatments are growing, resulting in projecting massive growth in the market.
How much will the market grow?
So, how much is the rheumatoid arthritis going to expand? Well, it is projected that in the next ten years it will grow by almost ten billion dollars, according to GlobalData, a leading research and consulting firm. Supply and demand, of course, work hand in hand to grow each other. However, the increase in demand is not only due to treatments being more abundantly available. Another key factor is that the population of women is increasing, and they are the primary patients of rheumatoid arthritis. There is also an escalating global ageing population, which means that there are more people around their middle-age, which is when rheumatoid arthritis becomes most common. Rising health care expenditure means that more people are able to access drugs and treatments that they need, and also that companies producing drugs and treatments have access to more funding. Unfortunately, both the obesity population and cigarette consumption are also rising, which potentially lead to a higher rate of people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Growing the market will be beneficial to both suppliers and consumers, as the disease is extremely expensive to healthcare services, and for patients often results in economic and quality of life decreases, with around half of patients unable to retain full-time employment.
Signs of steady growth
In the last twenty years, growth in the rheumatoid arthritis market has already been abundant. Twenty years ago, treatment options exclusively consisted of small-molecule disease-modifying therapies, which are first-line drugs, of which approximately a third of patients are unresponsive to. Next came the approval of biological therapies such as Remicade, Humira, and Enbral. These can be used to treat patients that are refractory to methotrexate. However, as with first-line, some patients don't respond to second-line treatments either. So, what's the future? Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitors, specifically, are also expected to assist in growing the market. Pfizer makes Xeljanz, which currently is the only JAK inhibitor available to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and its popularity has been small, mainly due to safety concerns, as it is usually reserved for fourth-line therapy. However, its usage is projected to rise as it becomes more recognizable. There is also a potential that it will launch in the EU, leading to further notoriety. Four new JAK inhibitors are also to be introduced called baricitinib, peficitinib, upadacitinib, and filgotinib. There, of course, is still more progress to be made. Although researches do point to the many breakthroughs that have been made, there is still a need for novel biologic therapies with fewer instances of treatment failures and inadequate responders.
Biosimilars, or biologic medical products that are almost exact copies of an original product produced by a different company, will play a great role in the market as it expands. They are expected to control a significant portion of market share, as well as create a competition for anti-TNFs, or TNF inhibitors, which are used to suppress physiologic responses to tumor necrosis factor, which happens during inflammatory response, caused by arthritis. Initially, it is likely that prescribers will be wary of biosimilars as they are not as often used as their established counterparts, but the lower price will be extremely beneficial to many suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers predict that post-2018, biosimilars will be abundantly available and it is projected that by 2025, 23% of the market will consist of biosimilars, spanning across the eight major markets.
However, there will inevitably also be downsides. For instance, high costs of treatment, research, and development are likely to act as a barrier to growth. Some project that sales will grow until 2018, before slowing due to leading TNF inhibitors losing patent protection, all the while having biosimilars become more prominent at a much cheaper price. Biosimilars will likely saturate the market with their cheap price in the coming years, but one factor that cannot entirely be accounted for is the research and development of new products that may change the market entirely.
A Global Data press release summarizes the skyrocket of the rheumatoid arthritis market very well. They say, “the anti-TNFs have been effective in treating the signs and symptoms of RA and inhibiting the progression to erosive bone disease. However, the landscape is quickly changing with the introduction of biosimilars, novel biologics, and a class of oral therapies known as JAK inhibitors, all of which will change the market dynamics between 2015 and 2025. With the anti-TNFs as extremely effective for RA, the market is extremely competitive for new entrants and will undergo further pressure as biosimilars launch across the 8 [major markets] and begin to gain traction in these markets.” The specifics of which specific products will prevail might not yet be clear; but one thing is for certain- the rheumatoid arthritis market is about to get bigger.