Sales of melanoma-treating drugs will grow from an estimated $3.3bn during 2016 to $5.5bn in 2026, according to a report by GlobalData.

Titled ‘PharmaPoint: Melanoma’, the report projects a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.3% and covers seven major markets of the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and Japan.

The report predicts that an increase in the melanoma cases from around 166,000 in 2016 to approximately 207,000 in 2026, along with a rise in branded agent prescriptions, will be the driving factor for the global melanoma market growth through the forecast period.

While the sales of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (BMS) Yervoy will continue to grow, the firm’s another melanoma drug Opdivo will see the most success at the end of 2026, states Louis Perdios, Healthcare Analyst at GlobalData.

BMS introduced the immuno-oncology drug Yervoy in 2011, followed by the launch of its anti-PD-1 antibody Opdivo in 2014.

“BMS introduced the immuno-oncology drug Yervoy in 2011, followed by the launch of its anti-PD-1 antibody Opdivo in 2014.”

The report further estimates that the drugs belonging to checkpoint immunotherapy class will comprise an overall 72% share of the melanoma market in 2026 and will be the most used for BRAF wild-type (WT), as well as BRAF V600 mutation-positive patients.

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With a growing development of the anti-PD-1 immunotherapies, drug makers are expected to work on the combination of PD-1 with other targeted agents, which might result in better response rates and treatment outcomes.

For companies trying to compete with BMS during and after the forecast period, development of such safe and effective anti-PD-1 drug combinations is anticipated to be a significant research and development (R&D) strategy.

During an interview, Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) revealed discouraging efficacy of existing adjuvant interferon treatments for high-risk Stage II and III melanoma patients, the majority of who ultimately experience recurrence or progression to metastatic disease.

This unmet need and large patient pool provide good opportunities for drug firms focusing on adjuvant settings and those developing efficacious and well-tolerated drugs for an improved cure rate, adds Perdios.