Tufts: Big Pharma bets its future on a swelling pipeline of biologics

Ken Kaitin, Director of the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development

Driven by fears of the patent cliff and lured by the blockbuster prospects presented by new biologics technologies, Big Pharma has become Big Biotech. As of last year, biotech products accounted for 71% of the revenue generated by the top 10 products, according to a new report from the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development.

During the past 11 years, reports Tufts, the biotech pipeline has swelled 155%, up from 355 treatments in 2001 to 907 in 2012. Big Pharma is engaged on 40% of those products, helping push the biotech R&D budget from $10.5 billion to $103 billion last year. And product sales for biotech therapies jumped 353%, to $163 billion.

"The notion that large pharmaceutical companies primarily develop small molecule drugs no longer holds," said Ken Kaitin, who helms the center.

Most industry insiders likely gave up that notion years ago. With an extended protection period for biologics, Big Pharma recognized long ago that its future revolved around a more powerful generation of biologics. Analysts have tracked a higher success rate for biologics as well, with new antibody technology getting firmly entrenched in the industry. And second-gen technology platforms promise to keep driving the industry toward biologics as the dividing line between Big Pharma and Big Biotech becomes increasingly blurred.  

- here's the press release from Tufts