The Asthma Challenge
This article was originally published in Start Up
Armed with a better understanding of the bad actors in the misguided immune response that causes allergies, companies hope to develop long-lasting treatments for asthma.
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Asthma represents one of the blockbuster markets in the pharmaceutical industry; sales of drugs from 10 companies amount to $14 billion each year. Yet despite the high-volume sales of asthma drugs, in 73% of patients the disease is poorly controlled. For pharmaceutical firms and start-ups, the complex, multifactorial disease offers tantalizing possibilities; it's an enormous, yet underserved market with many points of entry, mechanistically speaking.
Schering's willingness to take over the marketing responsibilities for Novartis's Foradil respiratory drug, which has been largely superseded by combination products, to some degree measures the depths of Schering's troubles. But it also indicates the kinds of competition small-company in-licensers are likely to face. A whole industry of in-licensing focused players has grown up to sell the non-core products of Big Pharma: if Schering is any indication, the competition for these products is likely to get even more intense.
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