Interferons are a class of proteins produced by the immune system (white blood cells, fibroblasts, or T-cells) as a response against viral infections, bacteria, tumor cells, and other pathogens. These glycoproteins are also known as cytokines and often called first line defenders against microbial infections.
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These proteins fight against infections by activating an immune response, generating immunologic cells such as natural killer cells, microphages, and T-cells. Interferons have proven to be advanced and effective treatment for chronic diseases such as cancer, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, and others. Interferons do not kill the cancer cells directly, instead these slow down their growth, later resulting in boosting the immune system response.
Interferons are classified into two types; type 1 interferon consists of alfa interferon, and beta interferon which are produced by white blood cells and fibroblasts. Type 2 interferon consists of gamma interferon produced by T-cells. With recombinant DNA technology in place, large amount of interferons are manufactured and used as drugs to treat various types of chronic diseases. Interferon drugs are popular as advanced therapy to treat cancer, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, and others diseases.
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These recombinant interferons are administered subcutaneously or intramuscularly to patients. Various recombinant alpha, beta, and gamma interferons are available under the following brand names: Roferon (Alpha-2a), Intron-A (Alpha-2b), Wellferon (Alpha-n1), Alferon-N (Alpha-n3), Infergen (Alpha-con-1), Avonex (Beta-1a), Betaseron (Beta-1b), and Acimmune (Gamma-1b).
The global interferon drugs market is projected to grow at a rapid pace in the next few years because of advanced method of treatment. Increase in incidence of chronic diseases such as hepatitis-B, hepatitis-C, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and others drives the global interferon drugs market. Currently, over 15 human interferons are available in the market and the number is expected to rise in the next few years. Increase in investments in R&D, rise in funding, and technological advancements are the other factors contributing to the growth of the global interferon drugs market.
However, patent expiration of interferon drugs acts as a major restraint of the market. Interferon drugs are expensive, which makes these unaffordable for patients. High pricing is a major concern affecting the availability of the drugs to patients. In developing economies, certain advanced treatments are not covered by the government which makes interferon treatment less accessible for the patient population. These factors hamper the growth of the global interferon drugs market. High cost of R&D also restrains the global market.
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The global interferon drugs market can be segmented based on application, drug type, distribution channel, and region. In terms of application, the market can be classified into hepatitis B, hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, leukemia, renal cell carcinoma, and others. Based on drug type, the global interferon drugs market can be categorized into interferon alpha, interferon beta, and interferon gamma. In terms of distribution channel, the market can be divided into hospital pharmacies, online pharmacies, and retail pharmacies.
In terms of region, the global interferon drugs market can be segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, and Latin America. North America dominates the global market owing to increase in health care investments, technological advancements, surge in awareness about this advanced treatment among patients, and rise in the need of modern treatments for chronic diseases. Increase in R&D investments is also one of the factors attributed to North America’s dominance of the global market. The interferon drugs market in Asia Pacific is expected to witness strong growth during the forecast period. This is attributed to rise in patient population, government initiatives to increase health care expenditure, acceptance of interferon therapy, and others.
Leading players operating in the global interferon drugs market include F. Hoffmann La-Roche Ltd., Merck & Co., Inc. and Biogen, Inc.