Frontier Pharma: Asthma - Identifying and Commercializing First-in-Class Innovation

Frontier Pharma: Asthma - Identifying and Commercializing First-in-Class Innovation

Large and Innovative Pipeline

Analysis has confirmed the asthma pipeline to be highly active, with 252 products in active development across all stages. The range of mechanisms of action employed by these compounds is also highly diverse, especially in comparison to the existing market landscape. More pertinently, the degree and proportion of breakthrough innovations is significant. GBI Research analysis identified 59 first-in-class programs in the asthma pipeline, acting on 43 first-in-class molecular targets, accounting for 23% of all products with a disclosed molecular target and reflective of the high degree of innovation in this indication. This has far-reaching strategic implications for all market participants, as, despite the high clinical trial attrition rate, it is highly likely that many of the first-in-class technologies will reach the market over the coming decade and may transform the clinical and commercial landscape.

Biologics Growing in Prominence in Asthma Treatment

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While the current asthma market is almost exclusively dominated by small molecules, which account for approximately 99% (the exception being Xolair), the current asthma pipeline includes 64 biologics, accounting for 24%. Small molecules amount to 178 compounds, equating to 66%.

This highlights both the commercial and clinical appeal of developing drugs of this class, and follows trends seen in other therapy areas, particularly oncology. Xolair (omalizumab), a recombinant humanized anti-IgE monoclonal Antibody (mAb), was the first humanized therapeutic mAb to be indicated for asthma. It was approved by the FDA in 2003 as an add-on therapy for adults and adolescents aged 12 and over, with moderate-to-severe allergic asthma and symptoms not adequately controlled with Inhaled Corticosteroids (ICS).

Xolair is also the only targeted therapy indicated for the treatment of a specific asthma phenotype. Its launch therefore addressed a significant unmet need for personalized therapy in asthma. Approximately 60% of asthmatics have allergic asthma, and may therefore benefit from Xolair treatment. However, only a minority of these patients has moderate-to-severe disease that is inadequately controlled with standard-of-care therapies, and is therefore eligible for treatment. Despite this, the drug has achieved blockbuster status, and although this can be attributed to a high Annual Cost of Therapy (ACoT), it is also reflective of how innovative drug development that targets unmet clinical needs can result in strong commercial outcomes. Indeed, drug developers are now looking to follow this example by developing highly specific biologics aimed at specific patient sub-types with the hope of benefiting previously underserved patients and generating strong revenues. Notable examples are mepolizumab, reslizumab, lebrikizumab and dupilumab, all of which target Interleukins (IL) heavily implicated in the inflammatory response.

A Deals Landscape with Numerous Investment Opportunities

Analysis has confirmed that 52 of the 59 first-in-class products have not been involved in a licensing or co-development deal. Although a number act on targets that are not yet strongly substantiated in terms of their therapeutic potential in asthma in clinical studies, many are supported by promising in vivo and in vitro preclinical evidence, and as such are highly promising asthma therapies. Indeed, breakthrough innovations are highly desirable as an investment option.

However, many deals involving first-in-class products were in early-stage development, whereas advance-in-class and addition-to-class product deals were typically made in late-stage development, indicating significant differentiation. These findings have significant strategic implications for both biotech companies seeking to out-license products and firms with an interest in in-licensing first-in-class products with strong clinical and commercial prospects.


The report analyzes innovation in asthma in the context of the overall pipeline and the current market landscape. In addition, it analyzes the deals landscape surrounding first-in-class products in asthma, and pinpoints opportunities for in-licensing. The report covers and includes - 
- A brief introduction to asthma, including symptoms, pathophysiology, and an overview of pharmacotherapy and treatment algorithms
- The changing molecular target landscape between market and pipeline and particular focal points of innovation in the pipeline
- Comprehensive review of the pipeline for first-in-class therapies, analyzed by of stage of development, molecule type, and molecular target
- Identification and assessment of first-in-class molecular targets with a particular focus on early-stage programs of which clinical utility has yet to be evaluated, as well as literature reviews on novel molecular targets
- Assessment of the licensing and co-development deal landscape for asthma therapies and benchmarking of deals involving first-in-class versus non-first-in-class-products

Reasons to buy

The report will assist business development and enable marketing executives to strategize their product launches, by allowing them to - 
- Understand the focal shifts in molecular targets in the asthma pipeline
- Understand the distribution of pipeline programs by phase of development, molecule type and molecular target
- Access a scientific and clinical analysis of first-in-class developmental programs for asthma, benchmarked against non-first-in-class targets
- Access a list of the first-in-class therapies potentially open to deal-making opportunities

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Table of Content

1 Table of Contents
1 Table of Contents 2
1.1 List of Tables 3
1.2 List of Figures 3
2 Executive Summary 4
2.1 Biologics Growing in Prominence in Asthma Treatment 4
2.2 Market Landscape to Grow in Diversity over Coming Years 4
2.3 Deals Landscape Offers Significant Investment Opportunities for First-in-Class Products 4
3 The Case for Innovation in Asthma 5
3.1 Growing Number of Opportunities for Biologic Products 6
3.2 Diversification of Molecular Targets 6
3.3 Innovative First-in-Class Product Developments Remain Attractive 6
3.4 Regulatory and Reimbursement Policy Shifts Favor First-in-Class Product Innovation 7
3.5 Sustained Innovation 7
3.6 GBI Research Report Guidance 8
4 Clinical and Commercial Landscape 9
4.1 Disease Overview 9
4.1.1 Epidemiology 9
4.1.2 Etiology 10
4.1.3 Disease Pathophysiology 10
4.1.4 Disease Symptoms 11
4.1.5 Diagnosis 11
4.1.6 Assessment of Disease Severity 12
4.1.7 Treatment 14
4.1.8 Treatment Algorithm 14
4.2 Overview of Marketed Products 16
4.2.1 Quick-Relief Medication 17
4.2.2 ICSs for the Maintenance Treatment of Asthma 17
4.2.3 ICS/LABA Combination Therapy for the Maintenance Treatment of Asthma 18
4.2.4 Add-on Therapy to ICS or ICS/LABA Therapies for the Maintenance Treatment of Asthma 19
4.2.5 Conclusion 20
5 Assessment of Pipeline Product Innovation 21
5.1 Asthma Pipeline by Phase, Molecule Type and Therapeutic Target 21
5.2 Comparative Distribution of Programs between the Asthma Market and Pipeline by Molecular Target
5.3 First-in-Class Pipeline Programs Targeting Novel Molecule Targets 26
6 Signaling Network, Disease Causation and Innovation Alignment 31
6.1 The Complexity of Signaling Networks in Asthma 31
6.2 Signaling Pathways, Disease-Causing Mutations and First-in-Class Molecular Target Integration 32
6.3 First-in-Class Target Matrix Assessment 34
7 First-in-Class Target and Pipeline Program Evaluation 36
7.1 Pipeline Programs Targeting Leukotriene A4 Hydrolase 36
7.2 Pipeline Programs Targeting P-selectin 38
7.3 Pipeline Programs Targeting Spleen Tyrosine Kinase 39
7.4 Pipeline Programs Targeting Prostaglandin D2 Receptor 2 41
7.5 Pipeline Programs Targeting OX40 Ligand 43
7.6 Pipeline Programs Targeting Interleukin-33 44
7.7 Pipeline Programs Targeting Interleukin-10 45
7.8 Pipeline Programs Targeting Mast Stem Cell Growth Factor Receptor 47
7.9 Pipeline Programs Targeting Bradykinin B1 Receptor 48
7.10 Conclusion 49
8 Deals and Strategic Consolidations 51
8.1 Industry-Wide First-in-Class Deals 51
8.2 Licensing Deals 53
8.3 Co-development Deals 57
8.4 First-in-Class Programs not Involved in Licensing or Co-Development Deals 59
9 Appendix 62
9.1 References 62
9.2 Abbreviations 66
9.2.1 Expert Panel Validation 67
9.3 Contact Us 67
9.4 Disclaimer 67

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