The scale of the global hepatitis B drug market was around US$2.15 billion in 2015 and is forecast to grow slowly at a CAGR of just 0.4% to US$2.2 billion in 2023, according to the latest biotechnology report from the global market research firm TrendForce.
Factors such as the introduction of generics into the market, China’s efforts to negotiate down drug prices and the absence of breakthrough efficacy drugs are having a negative impact on the whole hepatitis B drug market.
According to estimation from the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 780,000 people worldwide die every year from chronic infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. This viral infection often results in cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (a common type of liver cancer). The highest prevalence of the disease is found in China, which had the patient population of over 32 million in 2015.
Currently, China is also largest market for hepatitis B drugs, followed by the U.S. and Japan. “China has lowered prices of hepatitis B drugs for the domestic market through negotiations with suppliers,” said Sean Liu, TrendForce biotechnology analyst. “The pricing in China therefore will have an impact on the entire hepatitis B drug market over the next few years.”
Liu also stated that there are two main types of drugs for treating chronic hepatitis B infection – interferons and nucleoside/nucleotide analogues (NAs). “NAs are the dominant drug type,” said Liu. “TrendForce’s data shows that the revenue from sales of NAs for hepatitis B totaled around US$1.86 billion in 2015, representing 86.6% of the global hepatitis B drug market.
However, the introduction of popular generic NAs in recent years is lowering the average sales price of hepatitis B drugs on the whole. At the same time, the viral infection is not easily cured by the drugs that are on the market right now. Hopes for further market growth for hepatitis B therapies are pinned on combination therapy and drugs that use new mechanisms of action. However, these new treatment methods still have to go through clinical trials to prove their effectiveness.
TrendForce expects the landscape of the hepatitis B drug market to remain mostly unchanged before 2023 if no major treatment breakthrough emerges. Since treating this disease requires long-term expenditures, drugs that are currently on the market or under development can increase their competitive advantage by demonstrating their cost-effectiveness over a period of time. This is an important issue for drug companies to consider when developing their hepatitis B treatments.