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Lung cancer affects more than 1.4 million people worldwide. Non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounting for about 87% of all lung cancer patients is one of the leading causes of death. Survival rates are very poor in this class, which kills more patients than breast, colon and prostate cancer taken together. According to the latest report by Global Industry Analysts, world market for NSCLC is set to reach $13.3 billion by 2015, based on higher incidence of lung cancer and better and improved means of treatment.

Chemotherapy used to be the main treatment earlier, but with many new therapies under development, the scenario is likely to change where chemotherapy will account for only 36% of treatment in 2014 dropping from 68% in 2007. Chemotherapy drugs are likely to experience generic erosion and three of these drugs go off patent before 2012; Aventis' (SNY - Free Report) Taxotere (docetaxel), Bristol-Myers Squibb's (BMY - Free Report) Paraplatin (carboplatin) and Eli Lilly's (LLY - Free Report) Gemzar (gemcitabine).

Major players in the NSCLC market globally include GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK - Free Report) , AstraZeneca Plc (AZN - Free Report) , Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY - Free Report) , Eli Lilly (LLY - Free Report) among others. Many new drugs (approximately 110) currently in different stages of development now, will hit the market in the next few years. Some of these candidates are:

  • Pfizer (PFE - Free Report) is upbeat about figitumumab (CP-751,871) in patients with NSCLC. The phase II study of figitumumab in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel were carried out in 42 patients. We have a hold rating on Pfizer.
  • Cell Therapeutics (CTIC - Free Report) Cell Therapeutics is carrying out phase III trial of Opaxio for the treatment of NSCLC. But its attempt to file NDA earlier did not succeed as the results were not encouraging enough. But at present, CTIC has repositioned the drug for the treatment of women suffering from NSCLC as well as ovarian cancer. We have a hold rating on CTIC.
  • Merck (MRK - Free Report) is developing Stimuvax (cancer vaccine), currently under phase III trial for the treatment of NSCLC patients. Extended follow-up safety data from the randomized Phase IIb study of patients with inoperable advanced (stage IIIb/IV) NSCLC showed that the most common treatment-related adverse events observed in patients were mild injection site reactions and nausea, supporting investigation in Phase III clinical studies. Stimuvax is the first therapeutic cancer vaccine to enter global Phase III studies for stage III NSCLC. It is expected to be marketed in 2012. We have a hold rating on Merck.

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