Small Molecule Drug Discovery Market - Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2019 - 2024)

The Small Molecule Drug Discovery Market is segmented by Therapeutic Area, Process/Phase (Target Id/Validation, Hit Generation and Selection, Lead Identification, Lead Optimization) and Geography

Market Snapshot

small molecule drug discovery market
Study Period:


Base Year:


Fastest Growing Market:

Asia Pacific

Largest Market:

North America

Market Size in 2018:

USD 29.4 Billion

Market Size in 2024:

USD 46.9 Billion

Key Players:

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Small Molecule Drug Discovery Market

The global small molecule drug discovery market was valued at USD 29,363.85 million in 2018, and is estimated to be valued at USD 46,882.22 million in 2024, witnessing a CAGR of 8.11%. The increasing applications of small molecule drugs for the treatment of chronic diseases are leading to the increased demand for these drugs in the market. Moreover, due to the aforementioned factors, small molecule drugs dominate the biologics in the current healthcare market. The preference of small molecules, along with the increasing disease complications and technological advancements, has led major players to increase their R&D expenditure, which is further acting as the major growth driver for the global small molecule drug discovery market.

The global small molecule drug discovery market is subject to impacts from political situations. The policy implemented by the government has the capability to either amplify or diminish the market. 

Scope of the Report

This report estimates the global small molecule drug discovery market. It includes the detailed analysis of small molecules that are in the drug discovery phase only and does not include any other products.

By Therapeutic Area
Central Nervous System
Metabolic Disorders
Other Therapeutic Areas
By Process/Phase
Target Id/Validation
Hit Generation and Selection
Lead Identification
Lead Optimization
North America
United States
United Kingdom
Rest of Europe
South Korea
Rest of Asia-Pacific
Middle East & Africa
South Africa
Rest of Middle East & Africa
South America
Rest of South America

Report scope can be customized per your requirements. Click here.

Key Market Trends

Lead Optimization is Expected to hold its Highest Market Share in the Process/Phase Segment

In the process/phase segment of the market, lead optimization is believed to have the largest market size and is expected to witness a CAGR of 7.93% during the forecast period.

The process of lead optimization is achieved by modifying the selected small molecule, in order to improve efficacy and therapeutic value. Once the pharmacophore, which consists of relevant groups on a molecule that interact with a receptor and are responsible for the biological activity, is identified, it is subjected to functional group modification. Various changes are made to the initial compound and the therapeutic index is measured.

Rapid usage of in-vitro experiments, accompanied with computation procedures in early drug discovery for selection of compounds with more promising ADME, i.e., absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion, and toxicological profiles, is expected to drive the market studied.

The rise in cancer and other neglected diseases is encouraging investments in lead optimization for enhanced therapeutic value, in order to provide patients with efficient and targeted therapies.

small molecule drug discovery market

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North America Dominates the Market and is Expected to follow the Same Trend in the Forecast Period

North America currently dominates the market for small molecule drug discovery and is expected to continue its stronghold for a few more years. According to FDA, in 2016, the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) approved 22 novel drugs, either as new molecular entities (NMEs) under New Drug Applications (NDAs) or as new therapeutic biologics under Biologics License Applications (BLAs). Overall, 31,468 patients participated in these trials. This shows that the United States is focusing on R&D activities to meet the increasing demands of its citizens for better and effective drugs.

The rising focus on the R&D in the country is expected to propel the market growth in the future.

small molecule drug discovery market

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Competitive Landscape

The small molecule drug discovery market is moderately competitive and consists of several major players. In terms of market share, few of the major players currently dominate the market. However, with technological advancements and product innovations, mid-size to smaller companies are increasing their market presence by introducing new ingredients with fewer prices. Companies, like Pfizer Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Merck KGaA, Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, and GlaxoSmithKline, hold the substantial share in the market.

Major Players

  1. Pfizer Inc.
  2. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
  3. Merck KGaA
  4. Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH
  5. GlaxoSmithKline PLC

* Complete list of players covered available in the table of contents below

small molecule drug discovery market

Table of Contents


    1. 1.1 Study Deliverables

    2. 1.2 Study Assumptions

    3. 1.3 Scope of the Study




    1. 4.1 Market Overview

    2. 4.2 Market Drivers

      1. 4.2.1 Rise in Demand for Small Molecule Drugs

      2. 4.2.2 Dominance of Small Molecules in the Market

      3. 4.2.3 Increasing Number of Contract Organizations for R&D

      4. 4.2.4 Small Molecules in Treatment of Chronic Diseases

      5. 4.2.5 High R&D Expenditure in Small Molecule Drugs

    3. 4.3 Market Restraints

      1. 4.3.1 High Drug Development Cost

      2. 4.3.2 Strict Regulations

    4. 4.4 Porter's Five Forces Analysis

      1. 4.4.1 Threat of New Entrants

      2. 4.4.2 Bargaining Power of Buyers/Consumers

      3. 4.4.3 Bargaining Power of Suppliers

      4. 4.4.4 Threat of Substitute Products

      5. 4.4.5 Intensity of Competitive Rivalry


    1. 5.1 By Therapeutic Area

      1. 5.1.1 Oncology

      2. 5.1.2 Central Nervous System

      3. 5.1.3 Cardiovascular

      4. 5.1.4 Respiratory

      5. 5.1.5 Metabolic Disorders

      6. 5.1.6 Gastrointestinal

      7. 5.1.7 Orthopedics

      8. 5.1.8 Anti-infective

      9. 5.1.9 Dermatology

      10. 5.1.10 Immunology

      11. 5.1.11 Other Therapeutic Areas

    2. 5.2 By Process/Phase

      1. 5.2.1 Target Id/Validation

      2. 5.2.2 Hit Generation and Selection

      3. 5.2.3 Lead Identification

      4. 5.2.4 Lead Optimization

    3. 5.3 Geography

      1. 5.3.1 North America

        1. United States

        2. Canada

        3. Mexico

      2. 5.3.2 Europe

        1. Germany

        2. United Kingdom

        3. France

        4. Italy

        5. Spain

        6. Rest of Europe

      3. 5.3.3 Asia-Pacific

        1. China

        2. Japan

        3. India

        4. Australia

        5. South Korea

        6. Rest of Asia-Pacific

      4. 5.3.4 Middle East & Africa

        1. GCC

        2. South Africa

        3. Rest of Middle East & Africa

      5. 5.3.5 South America

        1. Brazil

        2. Argentina

        3. Rest of South America


    1. 6.1 Company Profiles

      1. 6.1.1 Pfizer Inc.

      2. 6.1.2 Bristol-Myers Squibb Company

      3. 6.1.3 Merck KGaA

      4. 6.1.4 Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH

      5. 6.1.5 GlaxoSmithKline PLC

      6. 6.1.6 AstraZeneca

      7. 6.1.7 Johnson & Johnson

      8. 6.1.8 Gilead Sciences Inc.

      9. 6.1.9 Teva Pharmaceuticals

      10. 6.1.10 Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd

    2. *List Not Exhaustive

**Competitive Landscape covers- Business Overview, Financials, Products and Strategies and Recent Developments

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