Monday, January 16, 2012

A worldwide look at drug therapies for eczema

A market research company has just released a new report analyzing the market for eczema therapeutics and predicting how the field will change over the next six years.

The report, titled "Eczema Therapeutics - Pipeline Assessment and Market Forecasts to 2018", can be yours for only $3500.

This type of market research is carried out by independent companies that sell their work to other companies large and small. Because they're providing a commercial, fact-based service, you can expect that they've done a thorough job.

Decisions that companies make based on reports like this explain the gap between what eczema patients need and what actually makes it to market. No matter whether it's feasible to develop a drug, because the cost of taking a chemical compound from discovery to FDA approval is around $1 billion, no company is going to invest in developing a drug that doesn't promise to pay its way and then some.

I tried to get a copy of the report--when I tweeted about it, got a direct message inviting me to apply for my free sample--but when I did, I was asked to pay $3500 upfront. D'Oh! It was unreasonable to expect the market research company to give their product away for free, especially to someone who clearly intends to blab all over the internet.

So we're left trying to deconstruct the table of contents for whatever meaning we can squeeze out of it.

The authors have segmented the globe into the leading national markets: the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, and Japan. I wonder why this order was picked--you'd think that Japan would rank higher than Spain, just because of the population size.

Why have they done this? What's different about the national markets? No surprise that the US leads, nor that all of them are developed Western countries. I suspect, because eczema prevalence seems to track the level of a nation's economy, that the markets are not different because, say, people in France need different therapies than people in the US. But governments regulate drugs differently. French companies--like Sanofi--and their products may enjoy preferential tax treatment in France. Or perhaps European companies are privileged in Europe.

This matters to you, the patient or parent, because you can't assume that the country you live in necessarily has the best therapies available to you. Maybe you live in the UK, but the eczema you have is a variety that is prevalent in Japan, and the Japanese market features therapies that would work best for you. Maybe you should be lobbying your own government to approve those therapies at home. Regional differences in therapies is an area that I am now going to pay attention to.

The authors have also kindly identified the leading companies in the eczema therapeutics field. They are Almirall, Anacor Pharmaceuticals, BioCis Pharmaceuticals, MIKA Pharma GmbH, Novartis AG, GlaxoSmithKline, and Sanofi.

This is useful because, to average Joes like me, the pharmaceutical world seems an unknowable universe where every company makes every kind of drug. But that's not the case. (Where's Bayer in this list? J&J?) Even in big pharma, companies have their cash cows (e.g. Pfizer and, until recently, Lipitor) and their areas of technical expertise. From now on I am going to pay attention to which companies have what products coming down the pipeline. The results of clinical trials, if not published in the business section, are usually sent out in press releases that you can find online.

Interested to learn what, globally, the leading drug therapies for eczema are? I bet you haven't heard of some of them. Protopic (tacrolimus), Elidel (pimecrolimus), MimyX, Atopiclair, and, of course, the whole gamut of topical corticosteroids. I'm going to look more closely at MimyX and Atopiclair, to start. I wonder what they are, what they do, and where they're approved for use.


  1. Very interesting. Not to be cynical, but I couldn't help but notice how major vaccine makers are the front runners with eczema therapies. Looking at your list of current leading creams, I have all but MimyX in the cabinet and then some--sigh. It's been a long road, and most of them had their place but I'm glad we're now beyond that.

  2. Thanks for your comment, EM. I haven't seen any published evidence suggesting that vaccinations cause eczema, although scientists do seem aware of the general concern. (I know we visited this topic last year, but here's a paper finding no link in 2200 patients from 12 countries: )

    I will be profiling those companies to see, in general, what they specialize in and what they have in the pipeline for eczema.

    How did you find those creams/ointments worked? Any unusual effects?

  3. I'll be intrested in your findings. From what I was told, Elidel and Protopic are very similar with Elidel being a cream and Protopic is an ointment. Both are black box labeled by the FDA as potential cancer causing, although our allergist throught the labeling was extreme. The Protopic worked great for hard to heal sores and around the eyes, usually just a does overnight would do the trick. Atopiclair is a shea butter/oil base, non steroidal cream. From my notes, I liked it, but my kid said it stings. The studies on this cream are encouraging, something like a 78% success rate and the itch vanishes over time. I can't recall if you've used EpiCeram, which is a barrier cream that works with the cholesterol is the skin? It was developed and patented by at doctor at univeristy in Cali, but the details escape me.

  4. Eczema therapies, collect 'em all!

    Interesting personal reviews of Atopiclair and MimyX here: I wonder what's in them. Cerave, for us, doesn't work any miracles--it's just a light emollient cream.

  5. PS I meant to mention EpiCeram, not Cerave... turns out EpiCeram was invented by Peter Elias at UCSF, where I work. I'll have to talk to him about it!