Pharmaceutical industry has constantly been replenished with innovative therapeutic prospects originating from variety of natural sources. One of the richest and promising sources of drug candidates includes marine life forms. Pharmacologically promising molecules have been isolated form marine microorganisms, planktons and algae. Potential candidates isolated from marine sources can be segmented under steroids, phenols, terpenoids, ethers, strigolactones, alkaloids and peptides. An article published in Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences in 2016 mentions that over 60% of the new drugs introduced in the field of infection and cancer are derived from natural sources. A compound cytarabine (approved under brand name Cytosar-U) isolated from marine sponge has been effective in treatment of leukemia. Eribulin mesylate (brand name Halaven) also isolated from marine sponge which belongs to macrolid class, has been approved for treatment of breast cancer and liposarcoma. Continuous research is adding innovative therapeutic molecules boosting the global marine pharmaceuticals market.
North America and Europe currently lead the global marine pharmaceuticals market owing to long standing market, and higher percentage of diagnosed patients. Low income countries witness higher percentage of generic drug market share as compared to that in the western developed countries. Although patent expiry would retard market growth in key geographies, success of new candidates currently in pipeline would dictate potential of marine pharmaceutical market in the future.
From the point of view of therapeutic area, oncology stands out as the most prominent market segment, followed by infection. Other areas being explored include cardiology, inflammation, and neurology.
Companies are constantly trying to expand indications for currently marketed drugs to increase scope of the market. In 2016 Takeda received European Commission (EC) approval for Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin) for consolidation treatment in post-transplant Hodgkin lymphoma. Earlier in 2015, Seattle Genetics received approval for Adcetris for treatment of patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) in the U.S. Over 10 potential candidates have been under clinical trials; while over 1,000 others are under preclinical surveillance, according to an article published at the OECD Biotechnology Workshop in 2012. Such intense research, and rapidly improving methods in the field of pharmacology would promise bright future for marine pharmaceutical market. Introduction of technologies such as high throughput (HT) sequencing has also enabled analysis of large number of DNA samples in a shorter time span, while improving the quality of results.
Frequent incidences of oil spills however have adversely affected marine environment. According to Center for Biological Diversity, U.S.A., over 300 spills involving offshore drilling have occurred since 1964. Oil spills have massively degraded the marine ecosystems and other dependent life forms. This might interfere in marine research and significantly reduce chances of the discovery of newer molecular entities with pharmacological properties.