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New report: Sweden’s drug development pipeline

Sara Gunnerås

The Swedish life science industry organization SwedenBIO has released its Drug Discovery and Development Pipeline report, highlighting the state of the Swedish pharmaceutical drug R&D pipeline.

The report also provides insights into such topics as the therapeutic areas being explored, the distribution of research projects in clinical phases, the number of potential first-in-class medicines, and some of the new areas of scientific opportunity being applied to advanced treatments.

The focus is primarily on potential new medicines in research stages in discovery, preclinical or clinical development as of spring 2020. SwedenBIO estimates that the report covers the vast majority of active companies and projects in Sweden. However, the number of ongoing discovery and preclinical projects in Sweden have possibly been underestimated, states the organization in the report.


Expansion and maturity

The report shows that the number of drug development projects has increased from 369 to 420 and at the same time, the maturity of the projects has advanced and there is a clear increase in the number of projects in Phase III and a growth in the number of employees, foremost at the smallest companies.

“Since the last report back in 2016, we have seen growth in particular among companies with projects in clinical phases,” says Sara Gunnerås, editor of the report. “More companies have reached phase III or are close to market approval of their products.”

420 drug development projects

The new report shows that there are 148 companies with headquarters in Sweden that develop pharmaceuticals, and half of these companies have projects in clinical trial phases.

In total these companies have 420 drug development projects and 148 of these are in clinical phase (46 in Phase I, 80 in Phase II and 24 in Phase III). Also, 59 percent of the projects originate from academia or healthcare.

Amongst the therapeutic areas that emerge the strongest are oncology and neurology, followed by endocrinology and infectious diseases. Rare diseases account for 26% of the projects covered by the report.

The COVID-19 pandemic

The report also shows that the vast majority of the companies, 80% in total, are planning to either employ more staff or enroll consultants in 2020-2021. However, their answers were given before the COVID-19 crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the conditions to refinance commercially strong projects and SwedenBIO requests a strong promotion of investments to secure that the expansion force within Swedish life sciences is not lost. They state that both the knowledge intensive jobs that this industry is creating and its importance for societal preparedness is at stake.

International collaboration

Last but not least, the report shows the importance of international contacts and capital. Every company in the report has strong business ties to the international life science community, through international members of the company’s board of directors, collaborations with science groups in academia or industry and license or distribution agreements with foreign companies etc. Half of the projects have already attained international funding with the associated business contacts and dividends.


Read the report here!

Photo of Sara Gunnerås, Editor, The Swedish Drug Discovery and Development Pipeline report 2020. Photo: SwedenBIO