Companies seeking success in the depression market must react to the challenges posed by generic selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Complementing traditional antidepressants with novel modes of action in the adjunctive market will be an important point of entry, although demonstrating efficacy in patients with treatment-resistant depression is a sizable hurdle to overcome.
While GlaxoSmithKline is walking away from depression research, other companies are responding to the challenges posed by generic SSRIs by focusing on treatment-resistant patients. As physicians are willing to prescribe concomitant depression therapies, developers are trialing candidates to augment traditional antidepressants at second line.
Pfizer is ceding ground to rivals such as Forest and Eli Lilly, as generic venlafaxine takes hold and Pristiq underperforms. Pfizer’s under-representation in the pipeline suggests that the company is moving away from depression research, rather than innovating and remaining at the forefront of the market.
Forest is a key player due to the company’s marketing clout and ability to spot licensing opportunities. Its future presence should be sustained by ongoing deal-making activities. Lundbeck also sees growth potential in the depression market, evident by its commitment to the development of novel antidepressants in collaboration with Takeda.