There has been much discussion over the years of the increasing trend to use technology in the way we treat and cure diseases. The biotech industry is now one of the fastest-growing in the world and by the end of 2018, the sector was valued at over $150 billion globally.
Biotech is changing the way scientists and researchers approach the development of new drugs – but what other driving forces are behind this massive industry?
What are biopharmaceuticals?
Biopharmaceuticals are a form of drugs produced using biotechnology, in particular using genetic manipulation to create and promote the growth of antibodies. Biopharmaceuticals are typically grown or extracted from living organisms – for example, cells explicitly grown for purpose in the lab. Common biopharmaceuticals in use around the world include vaccines, allergens, gene therapy treatments and blood component medications.
As our understanding of DNA and the human genetic code has increased, there has been an explosion in the number of biopharmaceutical treatments produced – a trend that is likely to continue for some time to come.
The production of biopharmaceutical drugs involves extensive biologics testing to check for efficacy and toxicity as well as to ascertain the correct dosages which need to be administered.
The differences between biopharmaceutical and pharmaceutical drugs
It’s important to remember the fundamental differences between biopharmaceuticals and more traditional pharmaceutical drugs. In essence, the two can be classified as:
Biopharmaceuticals drugs: Drugs produced using living organisms, for example bacteria or other cells, typically in a lab environment.
Pharmaceutical drugs: Drugs produced primarily using chemical synthesis.
Biopharmaceutical drug production is also considerably more expensive than manufacturing pharmaceutical drugs – another critical difference between the two markets. However, despite this, the biopharma market continues to grow at an unprecedented rate.
The top five biopharmaceutical drugs
As mentioned, the biopharma industry is massive, but some drugs have become so successful, they’ve almost become household names. Indeed, each of these drugs has gone on to generate more than $1 billion in revenue for the respective manufacturers:
Humira: An anti-inflammatory used for the treatment of a variety of problems, including psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, various forms of arthritis and ulcerative colitis. Humira is valued at $18.4 billion
Rituxan: Used to treat Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, leukemia and rheumatoid arthritis. Valued at $9.2 billion
Enbrel: Used for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Valued at $7.9 billion
Herceptin: Valued at $7.4 billion and used to treat breast cancer
Avastin: Used in the treatment of cancers, namely: colorectal, breast, ovarian, glioblastoma and lung cancers. Valued worth of $7.1 billion.
The future for biopharmaceuticals
Since their development in 1982, biopharmaceuticals have entirely revolutionized the treatment of many diseases and turned traditional ideas of healthcare on their head.
As one might expect, where there’s money, the market soon follows and there’s been an explosion in biopharma companies and development in recent years. Coupled with significant changes in how we diagnose, treat and prevent diseases, the biopharmaceutical industry and products are transforming our expectations of healthcare. Tricare drug rehab coverage.
Another key area where biopharmaceuticals are expected to change healthcare is through disease prevention via the development of vaccines and other early treatments. Indeed, this massive industry shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.