GBI Research LogoThe rheumatoid arthritis market in Southeast Asia, which covers South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, is set to grow from $1.04 billion in 2015 to $1.44 billion by 2022, representing a compound annual growth rate of 4.7%, according to business intelligence provider GBI Research.

The company’s latest report states that the entry of new therapies during the forecast period will stimulate market growth.

Promising pipeline candidates include Eli Lilly and Incyte’s baricitinib, Regeneron’s sarilumab, GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson’s sirukumab, Astellas’ peficitinib, and AbbVie’s upadacitinib. Galapagos’ filgotinib is in late-stage development, but will not be launched during the forecast period, as its Phase III trial completion date is in Q3 2020.

Aswini Nath, Analyst for GBI Research, explains: “The therapeutic market for rheumatoid arthritis has become extremely competitive owing to the number of new drug approvals. Competition for tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) inhibitors such as Humira and Remicade is particularly fierce and now dominates the treatment market for rheumatoid arthritis patients who are refractory to first-line, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.”

“Although the current RA therapeutic landscape is crowded, with several biologics including anti-TNFs and newly approved Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors, the launch of cheaper biosimilars and existing unmet need creates room for novel therapies.”

During the forecast period, novel oral JAK inhibitors in the form of Eli Lilly/Incyte’s baricitinib and Astellas’ peficitinib are expected to be launched in South Korea and Taiwan; AbbVie’s upadacitinib (another JAK inhibitor) is expected to be launched in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan; Regeneron’s IL-6 inhibitor sarilumab is expected to launch in South Korea and Taiwan; and Johnson & Johnson/GSK’s sirukumab (another IL-6 inhibitor) is expected to launch in Malaysia, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Although the market is crowded with multiple effective biologic therapies, it lacks curative treatments.

Instead, treatments aim to alleviate symptoms and reduce disease progression. This major unmet need is not expected to be addressed directly by any of the pipeline agents, and any that are successfully approved and launched will compete for the same patient populations.

Aswini concludes: “Although drugs with novel mechanisms of action are welcome additions to the market, the challenge will be to determine where they will fit into the treatment paradigm.”