AIDS Drugs ‘Fuel’ Drug Industry Growth, Investment Opportunities, Washington Times Reports
The 18 AIDS drugs currently available account for $5 billion of the $100 billion international pharmaceutical market, and the introduction of new drugs and the continued growth of the number of people receiving HIV drug therapy is expected to help the market continue to expand, making AIDS drug makers' stocks a good investment, the Washington Times reports in its "Personal Investing" column. Sales of AIDS medications are expected to more than double to $13 billion by 2007 with the number of people using drugs to "control" their illness expected to increase at a rate of 7% over the next five years. Combined with lower stock prices, this makes pharmaceutical stocks a good long-term investment opportunity, according to Chrystyna Bedrij, director of research for Griffin Securities of New York. In addition to the major pharmaceutical players such as GlaxoSmithKline and Merck, some of the smaller companies "have huge potential for a very big score -- unless they fail -- and that means they're for the speculative investor," she added. The mutative nature of HIV has lead many patients to experience drug resistance with existing therapies, creating an "unmet need for additional drugs," Navdeep Jaikaria, an analyst with Mehta Partners, an investment firm that specializes in pharmaceutical and biotech stocks, said. The "key" for the new drugs entering the market is to prove that not only are they "better than the current drugs" but that they are effective for patients who have become resistant to the other drugs offered, according to John McCamant, editor of Medical Technology Stock Letter. Firms like Trimeris, Progenics Pharmaceuticals and Aethlon Medical are at the forefront of developing "promising" new treatments such as entry inhibitors; Aethlon and Chiron, in conjunction with Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals, have new immunology treatments in the trial stage. On the HIV vaccine front, VaxGen and Cel-Sci have products in the clinical testing stage. GSK still "domina[tes]" the market for established AIDS drugs, but Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Pfizer and DuPont all have sizeable shares of the current market (Leckey, Washington Times, 8/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.