More than 1,100 new cancer treatments in development reports PhRMA

Jan 22, 2019
More than 1,100 new cancer treatments in development reports PhRMA

Cancer deaths have dropped by 26% since the 1990s, in large part thanks to new medicines that have transformed the treatment landscape.1,2

And with more than 1,100 more cancer drugs currently in clinical testing, the future looks bright, according to a new report from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

In Medicines in Development for Cancer, PhRMA, which represents the country’s leading biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, said: “The number of cancer survivors living in the United States has increased from 3 million in 1971 to 15.5 million as of January 1, 2016.”

“Approximately 73% of survival gains in cancer are attributable to new medicines.”

Much of this progress, it goes on to say, has been because of advances in molecular and genomic research, which have changed our understanding of the disease.

“Today, scientists recognize that no two cancers are alike: cancer is far more complex and varied. Just as each person’s genetic material is unique to them, every patient’s cancer is impacted and driven by a variety of unique factors,” said the report.

“The condition broadly referred to as cancer is in fact a group of hundreds of different diseases.”

The report highlighted the sector was at a “time of remarkable change in cancer care”, with new drugs approved in recent years representing significant advances for many people.

Despite great strides, however, cancer is still the second leading cause of mortality in the US, where it accounts for 22% of all deaths.

“There is still a need for new cancer treatments and potential cures,” it said, adding that we were only just beginning to understand the true power of new cancer treatments, such as personalized medicines and immuno-oncology.

In 2018, an estimated 1.7 million-plus Americans received a cancer diagnosis, and more than 609,000 died from the disease.

“America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are responding to the needs of cancer patients, working to develop more effective and better tolerated treatments,” said the report.

“Researchers are now exploring game-changing methods and technologies to fight cancer as well as innovative ways to use existing medicines, either alone or in combination with other therapies.”

Of the more than 1,100 new cancer medicines and vaccines in the pipeline, around 85% are first-in-class, meaning they represent a new way to treat the disease.

These include 137 medicines for different kinds of leukemia – which accounts for more than 3% of all new cancer cases, as well as 135 for lymphoma, which accounts for 5%.

A total of 132 drugs for lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer death in the US, are in development, as are 108 for breast cancer, which was expected to affect 266,000 American women in 2018 alone.

Researchers are investigating 90 brain cancer and 46 skin cancer medicines, as well as drugs that target colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer and childhood cancers.

To read the full report, click here.


  1. American Cancer Society (2018). Cancer Facts & Figures 2018. Available from: (accessed November 2018)
  2. PhRMA (2018). Medicines in Development for Cancer. Available from: (accessed November 2018).
More than 1,100 new cancer treatments in development reports PhRMA

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