The Emerging Lung Cancer Market

by Julia Harrison

Front Line estimates that the worldwide lung cancer therapeutic market, which encompasses therapeutics for non-small cell and small cell lung cancer, is $1.49 billion in 2002 and will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.7% over the next five years. Due to the large and growing prevalence of lung cancer worldwide, as well as the current lack of sufficiently effective therapies, lung cancer presents an attractive market, according to Front Line's recent strategic market report, Lung Cancer: Emerging Trends and Opportunities.

Emerging Lung Cancer Therapeutics

The report predicts that emerging product sales will contribute approximately 13%, or $313 million, to the 2007 worldwide lung cancer therapeutic market. Front Line estimates that 107 compounds are currently in late-stage development worldwide, with 19 in Phase III, pre-registration, or registration. Of the 19 compounds in Phase III or beyond, 11 belong to 3 major classes: matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors (2), signal transduction inhibitors (4), and immunotherapies (5). For each class, Front Line evaluates individual compounds' strengths and weaknesses and estimates future market impact.

Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors

First-generation matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors (MMPIs) have failed to reach the market, and scientists remain skeptical of their successful application in lung cancer. However, second-generation MMPIs currently in clinical trials manifest potent activity against key matrix metalloproteinases such as MMP-2 and MMP-9. Oral administration contributes to their potential to expand upon the strong market share that this class currently controls.

Signal Transduction Inhibitors

This class includes the EGFR tyrosine kinases Iressa and Tarceva. Iressa is predicted to be the first of this class to launch. While these cytostatic agents are expected to suppress tumor growth, prescription will need to be concurrent with a cytotoxic agent for therapeutic effect. STIs permit lower doses of cytotoxic agents, mitigating the severe side effects with which the latter are associated. Favorable efficacy and side effect profiles will allow STIs to gain a significant foothold in the 2007 worldwide market.


Immunotherapies currently in late-stage clinical development include monoclonal antibodies, cancer vaccines, and immunostimulants. Thymosin alpha 1 is expected to launch by 2003 as the first in the class. The therapeutic results of immunotherapies have long been elusive, causing recurrent cycles of optimism and disappointment in how they are perceived.

Opportunities in the Future Lung Cancer Market

Key aspects in which current treatments fall short are increased survival time and reduced side effects. These unmet needs translate into significant opportunities for drug manufacturers and marketers.

No curative treatments for lung cancer currently exist other than resection and radiotherapy, which are options primarily for early-stage disease. Since the symptoms of lung cancer usually appear long after metastasis, the disease is typically diagnosed in the late stages. Thus there is great need for therapeutics that either cure or significantly improve survival time in patients with late-stage lung cancer. Novel products demonstrating superior efficacy profiles have the potential to capture significant market share.

Palliative therapy is a common treatment regimen due to late diagnosis, high mortality rate, and need to counteract the serious adverse effects of lung cancer therapeutics. Novel drugs with fewer adverse effects may have greater market advantage than drugs of similar or better efficacy with inferior safety profiles. Oncologists feel that improved side effects would likely justify higher prices for such drugs due to the overall treatment cost savings incurred.

Front Line provides strategic recommendations concerning the marketing, sales, and pricing of therapeutic or palliative lung cancer products. Examples of strategies for extending product life are:

 Top Business Scenarios for the Oncology Market

Developing strong marketing presence and sales experience in the oncology market is key to maximizing product revenues. Some top business scenarios include:

Acquire an Oncology Division or Company

Growth through acquisition can be a valuable method to add new compounds to the product portfolio or pipeline and to gain additional oncology expertise quickly. Front Line identifies acquisition candidates by assessing net similarities between companies and routinely uses the DCF method to determine candidates' market valuations.

In-license top candidates

Efficacy, safety, market size, and competitive position are vital to selecting a compound that will enhance a company's existing oncology drug portfolio and pipeline. Front Line evaluates in-licensing candidates using a scoring system of eight criteria covering these aspects.

Partner to gain economies of scale

Front Line identifies top partnering candidates and the synergies and challenges involved with each. To determine the optimal deal structure to maximize financial and strategic value for both parties, Front Line estimates EPS impact and conducts net present value (NPV) analyses of various partnership structures. This process allows a company to focus on key near-term partnering opportunities while monitoring other companies' developments for future partnering opportunities.

Implement superior sales and marketing strategies

In this era of medical cost cutting and increased workloads on physicians, doctors are less apt to spend valuable time receiving sales representatives. There are several key areas in which sales representatives can focus their efforts, and this can make or break the relationship between the sales representative and the oncologist.

Julia Harrison is an Associate at Front Line, specializing in Oncology, Diabetes and Drug Discovery Technologies. Julia has a B.A. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University. 

To purchase a copy of the report or to discuss Front Line's expertise and services in oncology, please contact us at, or by calling (650) 525-1500 x125, x135, or x145.