Why Small Molecules Are Still a Big Deal
Though large molecules and advanced therapies currently dominate headlines, small molecules remain of great significance for the industry – and patients
Gordon Bates | | Opinion
In 2018, major news included Abbvie’s Humira, a monoclonal antibody (mAb) approved for the treatment of arthritis and a range of diseases in the inflammation and immunology space, leading the pack of global highest-revenue drugs with sales of around $20 billion. In addition, innovative cell and gene therapies seem ready to revolutionize treatment for diseases from sickle-cell anemia to inherited genetic forms of blindness; the FDA expects to approve 10–20 cell and gene therapy products a year by 2025.
But scratch beneath the surface and you’ll see that biologics are not the only big players in the pharma space. Small molecules continue to play a significant role in the development of innovative treatments that benefit the lives of patients around the world. Specialty medicines are increasingly driving global pharma growth, especially in developed markets, with approximately half of specialty sales attributable to small molecule applications.
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