BioWorld International Correspondent
Sweden's drug development pipeline is showing signs of maturity, according to a survey which analyzed the development activities of the country's biotechnology sector.
The number of projects in Phase III trials has climbed from five to 11 since 2006, according to the study, which was conducted by the biotechnology industry lobby group SwedenBio, the government foreign direct investment agency in Sweden, and Vinnova, the state agency for research and innovation. And the total number of clinical and late preclinical development projects has climbed from 39 to 51.
However, Sweden's biotechnology sector has yet to register its first product approval. The most advanced compound, said Emma Berglund, project leader at Stockholm-based SwedenBio, is Lipsovir, a cold sore treatment based on a proprietary formulation of the antiviral drug acyclovir and the steroid cortisone, which Huddinge-based Medivir AB is developing. The company recently reported that 75 percent of participants in a Phase III registration study in North America had completed treatment.
The sector has weathered the downturn of the earlier part of this decade, and its leading companies have started to develop sales and marketing ambitions and are negotiating regional commercial rights in out-licensing deals with larger partners. "There's been a realization that you can't just live on milestones forever. You need to have another source of income," she told BioWorld International.
A total of 77 companies, selected from an initial list of 116 firms, were deemed to have relevant activities. Only 51 of the 77 had active ongoing projects that fell within the survey's definition - that is, projects either in the clinic or slated to enter the clinic within 12 months. The survey identified 110 projects in total, up from 89 in 2006. Of these, 45 are in late preclinical development; 22 are in Phase I trials; 32 are in Phase II trials; and 11 are in Phase III trials.
Some 32 percent of the identified projects already are partnered with big pharma companies. Another 44 percent currently are available for partnering. Four of the Phase III projects are not yet partnered.
Cancer, diseases of the central nervous system and metabolic disease are the most strongly represented indications. About 61 percent of the development projects involve small molecules, while large molecules account for 39 percent of the identified projects.