After a momentous year, Washington is readying itself for holiday vacation. There's no better indication than my traffic-free commute over the bridge - it was, dare I say, relaxing. I welcome the slower pace not just for the liberation from gridlock; it's a chance to reflect on the year. And on the biopharmaceutical industry front, it was 12 months of major medical advances.
2011 saw over 3,000 medicines in development
and dozens of new drugs
approved. In fact, the fiscal year marked one of the highest numbers of drug approvals in the past decade, surpassed only by 2009. Many of these new drugs are great leaps for patient care, including two new treatments for hepatitis C
, a drug for late-state lung cancer
, and the first drug for lupus
in 50 years. Seven of the new medicines provide major advances in cancer treatments and almost half of the medicines were judged by the FDA to be significant therapeutic advances over existing therapies for such ailments as kidney transplant rejection
and heart attack
. And patients who suffer from rare diseases may have found hope in one of 10 new medicines, such as a treatment for thyroid cancer
Saying it was an impressive year doesn't do the researchers justice, particularly when you consider that it takes 10 to 15 years for the initial discovery of the medicine to availability to patients. It's an immense investment and commitment. But 2012 is fast approaching and my gratitude is quickly giving way to excitement. The scientific potential for making even more progress against diseases has never been greater and with over 3,000 new medicines now in development and 2,000 Phase III clinical trials
recruiting or about to recruit new patients worldwide, the biopharmaceutical industry is poised to make leaps. What do you hope comes next in our fight against health challenges?