Pancreatic cancer is rarely detected in its early stages, as it develops in the pancreas and spreads rapidly to other organs.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 56,770 people in the US will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2019, accounting for roughly 3% of all cancers.
According to the GlobalData Drugs Database, for all clinical trial stages combined, the five-year relative survival rate is only 9%, and about half of patients are diagnosed at a distant stage where five-year survival is 3%. About two-thirds of pancreatic cancer patients are at least 65 years old and the average age at diagnosis is 70.
Of the top five causes of cancer death, being breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer has the lowest phase transition success rate for a drug transitioning from Phase III to registration, at 27%.
On top of this, the likelihood of approval for a pancreatic cancer drug is the lowest out of the top five in all three phases, but most noticeably in Phase III, where it is 23%, according to the Database.
In the last 10 years, clinical trials for pancreatic cancer have shown an upward trend, as seen in Figure 1. Non-industry sponsored trials have consistently outnumbered industry-sponsored trials every year. This may be because pharma companies are historically less likely to take the risk to invest in a trial that has a very low phase transition success rate and the likelihood of approval.