martes, 30 de enero de 2018

Alzheimer: Unos que vienen, Pfizer que se vá. La I+D sigue igual...


It has been 15 years since a new drug for Alzheimer’s was launched, reflecting one of the longest and most expensive losing streaks for Big Pharma. But the sector continues to plough billions of dollars into finding a medicine that can arrest the disease, tempted by the economics of a product that could help the roughly 44m sufferers worldwide.

Now some in the industry are starting to question how long that commitment can last, after Pfizer announced last week it was pulling out of neuroscience research. Its decision means the race to find the first medicine to slow or halt Alzheimer’s must now proceed without one of the biggest forces in drug development.


Pfizer "se olvida" del Alzheimer...

John LaMattina, a former head of research and development at Pfizer, interprets the decision as a portent of things to come, and predicts other large drugmakers will eventually follow suit.

I think others will pull out,” says Mr LaMattina, adding that the US government agency for medical research, the National Institutes of Health, might have to step in to plug the funding gap as private companies vacate the space. 

Alzheimer’s research is extremely expensive, in large part because the disease progresses slowly, meaning a study must last for several years for a drug to show it works. The cost of a late-stage “Phase III” trial can run to between $600m and $1bn.

You can’t run several programmes of that size, even with a budget like Pfizer’s,” says Mr LaMattina. “You can only take one shot, and if you devote a billion dollars to it you’re eating up a large chunk.”

He adds: “How many times can these companies take another shot when other parts of science like gene therapy are exploding, and when there’s a desperate need for new drugs to replace opioids? There are many more areas where you can see the goal lines.”

However, in interviews with the Financial Times at the JPMorgan healthcare conference in San Francisco, most of the biggest names in Alzheimer’s development said they remained committed to the disease, including Biogen, Eli Lilly, Merck, Roche, Novartis and Takeda Pharmaceuticals

Taking care of Alzheimer’s patients is a huge economic cost to society and now is not the time to give up,” says Dan Skovronsky, the top scientist at Eli Lilly, which suffered a big setback in 2016 when its most advanced Alzheimer’s drug flunked a large trial. (Más)   

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