More than 16,000 drugs are expected to be in the R&D pipeline worldwide in 2019, the highest number on record, according to a March 2019 report from Pharma Intelligence.
The global R&D pipeline refers to all drugs in development by pharmaceutical companies, including those in preclinical testing, clinical testing and regulatory approval, to those ready to launch into the market. Launched drugs count as part of the R&D pipeline, but only if they are still in development for additional indications or markets.
There has been rapid growth in the drug marketplace in recent years. The total number of drugs in the global R&D pipeline in 2019 (16,181) is a six percent expansion over 2018 numbers (15,267), with the 2019 growth rate slightly above the three-year mean of 5.69 percent.
The majority of drugs in the R&D pipeline will be anticancer, biotechnology, or neurological in nature. In total, anticancer therapies are expected to increase its pipeline size by 9.3 percent to 5,697 active drugs in 2019. This is the greatest expansion rate of all of the therapeutic areas, according to Immuno-Oncology Products Projected to Dominate Pharma R&D Pipeline in 2019.
In addition, four out of every 10 drugs in the pipeline this year will be biologicals. Over the last few decades, pharma has moved away from traditional small molecule drugs towards biotech-centered strategies. While leading to better-targeted therapies, at least in the case of monocolonal antibodies, this approach is generally more expensive. As a result, synthetic chemicals should continue to be the top origin of pipeline drugs in 2019, with 8,285 active products expected.
Novartis, Takeda, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co, Pfizer and Eli Lilly are expected to the be the pharmaceutical companies with the greatest number of drugs in the pipeline in 2019. These ten market leaders will control nearly seven percent of the worldwide R&D pipeline this year.
However, smaller companies, which produce only one or two drugs, are starting to control larger shares of the pipeline, according to Pharma Intelligence. In 2019, these companies would control 20 percent of the marketplace, up from 15 percent last year. The report estimates that there are 1,633 companies that produce just one drug and 669 with two, making up 53.3 percent of the 4,323 pharmaceutical companies with active pipelines.
The United States hosts the majority of the world’s pharmaceutical companies (46 percent), followed by China (seven percent) and the United Kingdom (six percent). European-centered pharma companies account for 25 percent of the global total, while Asia makes up 23.6 percent.