Increasing prevalence of the disease coupled with growing awareness is set to grow the market for gastric cancer in Asia-Pacific at a double-digit compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.4%, according to a report by GBI Research.

Titled 'Gastric Cancer Therapeutics in Asia-Pacific Markets to 2022 – Growth Driven by Increasing Prevalence and Launch of Targeted Therapies', the report estimates the Asia-Pacific gastric cancer market to grow in value from $1.3bn last year to $2.7bn by 2022.

Higher levels of health insurance coverage is further adding to the growth prospects in this area, adds the report, which also cites the example of Japan where the number of people receiving treatment has increased due to awareness of the disease being strong and diagnosis rate during stage one being on the rise.

The treatment rates will also be driven further by the anticipated approval of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) over the forecast period, resulting in higher sales, analyses Gayathri Kanika, Analyst for GBI Research.

"The current pipeline is strong, with targeted therapies expected to be launched during the forecast period.”

Gayathri explains: “Currently, the gastric cancer treatment landscape largely comprises generic chemotherapies, which provide limited clinical benefit and cause serious side effects. However, the current pipeline is strong, with targeted therapies expected to be launched during the forecast period.”

One such product with high potential for rapid uptake is Cyramza (ramucirumab), which is a second-line and third-line therapy for the disease. Cyramza is quickly becoming a standard second-line therapy and its indication is anticipated to be extended to cover the HER2-negative first-line setting.

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A promising drug in HER2-positive gastric cancer is the first-line combination therapy Perjeta (pertuzumab) plus Herceptin, which has exhibited higher efficacy over Herceptin plus chemotherapy in a phase two trial.

However, according to Gayathri, possible barriers to growth are the premium pricing of mAbs, which will pose affordability issues in countries such as India and China, where patients are forced to pay out-of-pocket due to weak reimbursement frameworks.

Challenges are also anticipated in other major Asian markets such as Japan and South Korea where patients are being increasingly cost-conscious, limiting the opportunities for premium pricing for products that are in pipeline, adds the report.