The pharmaceutical industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the evolution of treatment paradigms, and the gravity of unmet needs, as well as the growing importance of technologies such as pharmacogenomics, digital therapeutics, and artificial intelligence. In the last three years alone, there have been over 787,000 patents filed and granted in the pharmaceutical industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in pharma: antibody-drug conjugates. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

80+ innovations will shape the pharmaceutical industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the pharmaceutical industry using innovation intensity models built on over 668,000 patents, there are 80+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, engineered multi-specific antibodies, tyrosine kinase inhibitors, and mutant DNA polymerases are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Phenotypic drug screening, antibody-drug conjugates, and polysaccharide-protein conjugate vaccines are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are drug delivery nanoparticles and antibody encoding polynucleotide libraries, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the pharmaceutical industry

Antibody-drug conjugates is a key innovation area in the pharmaceutical industry, particularly in the field of oncology

Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) are a type of targeted cancer therapy that combine the specificity of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) with the cytotoxic effects of chemotherapeutic drugs. In an ADC, a mAb is linked to a cytotoxic drug molecule, which is then delivered directly to cancer cells via the antibody's specific binding site. The approach allows for more precise targeting of cancer cells and is anticipated will minimize the side effects of chemotherapy.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 340+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established pharmaceutical companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of antibody-drug conjugates.

Key players in antibody-drug conjugates – a disruptive innovation in the pharmaceutical industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.  

Patent volumes related to antibody-drug conjugates

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
F. Hoffmann-La Roche 2200 Unlock Company Profile
Gilead Sciences 476 Unlock Company Profile
AbbVie 464 Unlock Company Profile
Pfizer 430 Unlock Company Profile
Ganymed Pharmaceuticals 428 Unlock Company Profile
Amgen 423 Unlock Company Profile
Daiichi Sankyo 403 Unlock Company Profile
Astellas Pharma 355 Unlock Company Profile
Bristol-Myers Squibb 334 Unlock Company Profile
ImmunoGen 304 Unlock Company Profile
AstraZeneca 280 Unlock Company Profile
Seagen 267 Unlock Company Profile
Mereo BioPharma 5 249 Unlock Company Profile
Immatics 231 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson & Johnson 223 Unlock Company Profile
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals 207 Unlock Company Profile
Philogen 207 Unlock Company Profile
Stemcentrx 173 Unlock Company Profile
Oxford BioTherapeutics 169 Unlock Company Profile
GSK 148 Unlock Company Profile
Takeda Pharmaceutical 142 Unlock Company Profile
Sanofi 137 Unlock Company Profile
TRON 131 Unlock Company Profile
Novartis 111 Unlock Company Profile
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center 108 Unlock Company Profile
Eureka Therapeutics 102 Unlock Company Profile
Merck 100 Unlock Company Profile
Prothena 96 Unlock Company Profile
Sorrento Therapeutics 85 Unlock Company Profile
Mayo Clinic 82 Unlock Company Profile
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 81 Unlock Company Profile
ADC Therapeutics 80 Unlock Company Profile
C. H. Boehringer Sohn 80 Unlock Company Profile
Royal Caribbean Cruises 77 Unlock Company Profile
Axon Neuroscience 71 Unlock Company Profile
Alethia Biotherapeutics 68 Unlock Company Profile
Bayer 64 Unlock Company Profile
Zymeworks 62 Unlock Company Profile
Academia Sinica 59 Unlock Company Profile
Seven and Eight Biopharmaceuticals 59 Unlock Company Profile
National Research Council of Canada 58 Unlock Company Profile
National Cancer Center 58 Unlock Company Profile
OBI Pharma 58 Unlock Company Profile
MacroGenics 58 Unlock Company Profile
Chiome Bioscience 57 Unlock Company Profile
Siwa 56 Unlock Company Profile
CytomX Therapeutics 56 Unlock Company Profile
Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine 54 Unlock Company Profile
Abbott Laboratories 53 Unlock Company Profile
Adicet Bio 53 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

F. Hoffmann-La Roche is one of the leading patent filers in antibody-drug conjugates. The lead ADCs are Kadcyla and Polivy, which are currently approved in multiple countries for select cancers. The company has filed several patents and is currently investing in the development of several other pipeline candidates that fall under the ADC class.

In terms of application diversity, AbbVie leads the pack, while Siwa and Takeda stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Axon Neuroscience held the top position, followed by Daiichi Sankyo and Immatics.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the pharmaceutical industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Pharmaceutical.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article. 

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.