According to a 2010 report from the American Cancer Society, the global annual economic cost of cancer has surpassed one trillion US dollars, consuming 1–3% of the gross domestic product in most countries. In high-income countries, the average total cost of treating cancer (including surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy etc.) is approximately USD$100,000.
Current cancer drug therapy is largely directed towards extending life and disease palliation rather than long term disease control or cure. Still, according the to the US National Cancer Institute (NCI), most of the advanced cancer drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the last few years are priced at over USD$100,000 per patient, per year. The average monthly cost for a branded oncology drug in the United States is now approximately USD$10,000, up from an average of USD$5,000 a decade ago.
Oncology is the top-selling drug category in developed markets (including the US, Japan, UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy), with more than double the revenue generated by each of the next two largest categories, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. In “pharmerging” markets (including China, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, India, and Turkey), oncology is the fourth-largest segment, marginally surpassed by pain, CNS drugs, and antibiotics.
The total cancer drug market has been estimated to be worth approximately USD$100 billion per annum, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7%. The market has been dominated by conventional chemotherapy, although targeted therapy and immunotherapy are rapidly gaining market share.
With the advent of next-generation immunotherapy, a quantum leap in patient response rates is apparent for immuno-oncology therapies in late-stage clinical development. According to a 2013 Citi Research report, the immuno-oncology segment will itself exceed USD$35B within the next 10 years.
The statistics reflect the enormity of cancer’s health economic burden, and the commensurate value of the market opportunity to advance truly effective medical treatments.