The ulcerative colitis (UC) therapeutics market has many options available and a relatively strong development pipeline. Despite this, there are some unmet needs that remain and opportunities that could be further explored. GlobalData’s upcoming report, Ulcerative Colitis: Global Drug Forecast and Market Analysis, explores several unmet needs and opportunities in the UC space, some of which include developing treatments for patients with certain comorbidities, and combination products.

One gap in the UC treatment market is the availability of treatment for patients with certain comorbidities. Many patients with UC have comorbidities such as cancer or are transplant recipients. Most drugs available for the treatment of UC weaken patients’ immune systems, which puts them at higher risk of infection. Key opinion leaders (KOLs) interviewed by GlobalData have suggested that this group of patients would benefit from a greater number of treatment options that cause less systemic immune-related side effects.

One agent currently in development for UC, InDex Pharmaceuticals’ cobitolimod, is administered via rectal enema, which limits systemic absorption. This route of administration is one example of a solution to the problem of systemic immune modulation. Developing drugs that avoid systemic immune modulation could be an area of growth in the UC therapeutics market.

Another area that could be further explored in UC is combination treatments. Combination treatments are therapies that utilise two different drugs with differing mechanisms of action. One example of a combination therapy that is currently being studied for UC is Janssen’s JNJ-4804, which is a combination treatment of Simponi (golimumab) and Tremfya (guselkumab). Simponi is already marketed as monotherapy for the treatment of UC, while Tremfya is still undergoing clinical trials and is not yet available for this indication.

Janssen’s Phase IIa VEGA trial evaluated the efficacy and safety of this combination in patients with moderate to severely active UC and found promising results, which included higher rates of remission compared with Tremfya monotherapy and Simponi monotherapy. KOLs interviewed by GlobalData have indicated this could be an area for exploration in UC.

The current UC landscape is crowded, but GlobalData believes that unmet needs and opportunity remain. Combination treatments and treatments that are more appropriate for patients with certain comorbidities represent opportunities for pharmaceutical companies to develop and market agents that address patients’ needs.