Liver diseases are almost always linked to factors such as heavy alcohol consumption, which is a very stereotypical approach to look at the over 100 known forms of liver diseases. Studies show that although drugs such as alcohol are key causative factors behind a number of liver diseases, there are a variety of other factors that are equally responsible for causing many liver diseases in all age groups, ranging from infants to adults. This has led to a flourishing for global liver diseases therapeutics market
across the globe. Global pharmaceutical giants such as Abbott Laboratories, Novartis, Roche, Astellas Pharma Inc., Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead Science Inc., and Merck & Co. are the key players in this arena, with many blockbuster drugs already available in the market and many pipeline drugs in their portfolios.
Numerous Conditions and Causes
Cirrhosis is one of the most commonly known liver conditions to people. Although people consider it a liver disease, it is a condition that results from permanent damage to the liver. It is the final stage of many liver diseases and results in a number of health issues such as hepatic encephalopathy, ascites, and variceal bleeding.
There are many liver diseases with virtually unknown causes, but mentioned below are the factors that lead to most liver diseases:
- Viruses: Viruses such as those responsible for hepatitis A, B, and C commonly attack the liver and gravely affect its functioning. Although there are vaccines for hepatitis type A and B, there is currently no proper vaccine for hepatitis C, making the situation severe.
- Alcohol: How the liver metabolizes alcohol largely depends on factors such as age, gender, health, weight, and even the ethnicity of a person. With too much of alcohol to detoxify continuously, liver cells suffer destruction or alteration and the condition results in fat deposits in the liver and can also lead to permanent scarring and/or inflammation of the liver.
- Other Drugs and Toxins: As the liver is responsible for processing most of the medications and chemicals entering the body, it is highly vulnerable to chronic and acute liver conditions resulting from harmful chemicals. In several cases, certain liver conditions are a predictable consequence of overexposure to chemicals such as carbon tetrachloride, polyvinyl chloride, and acetaminophen.
- Cancer: Although the cases of primary liver cancer are relatively uncommon, there are numerous cancers that metastasize in the liver. As the liver is responsible for filtering a high volume of blood, it is highly susceptible to developing a secondary form of cancer. The rare cases of primary liver cancer mostly result from hepatitis C or hepatitis B.
- Autoimmune Conditions: In some cases, the immune system of the body may begin to attack the bile ducts, leading to scarring and inflammation of the liver and progressively to a more serious liver condition.
Market for Liver Diseases Therapeutics: Dynamics
The large number of conditions affecting the liver and leading to potentially life-threatening conditions, which can be avoided with proper care and medication, makes the market for liver diseases therapeutics a highly lucrative one.
A report recently published by Transparency Market Research states that the global market for liver diseases therapeutics had a net valuation of US$6.5 billion in 2011. The lack of viable alternatives to standard liver disease therapies ensures that the market treads along a stable if not exceedingly fruitful growth path. The report states that the market, largely owing to this factor, along with some others such as the rising aging population of the globe (prone to liver cancer and hepatitis), high unmet needs in the field of liver cancer, and rising vaccination levels in developing countries, will allow the market to grow at an 8.6% CAGR between 2012 and 2018.
The market for liver disease therapeutics includes drug classes such as immunoglobulins, immunosuppressants, chemotherapy drugs, targeted therapy drugs, vaccines, corticosteroids, and antiviral drugs.