Conversations on Innovations in the Biopharmaceutical Pipeline

Conversations Round Up: Future Innovations in the Biopharmaceutical Pipeline

09.23.13 | By John Castellani

With more than 5,000 medicines in development globally, the prospects for incredible breakthroughs in medicine – many of which may one day help those suffering from diseases that are currently untreatable – are exceedingly bright.

With this general backdrop, we wanted to know what potential advances in biopharmaceutical science most excite people. So for this week’s Conversations question, we asked:

Whether you are a patient, advocate or researcher, what are you most hopeful will emerge from the biopharmaceutical pipeline in the coming years?

We received responses from Marc Boutin, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the National Health Council; Paul Howard, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research; and PhRMA’s own Dr. Bill Chin, Executive Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs.

As Paul touched on in his response, while we are seeing incredible treatment advances in  areas like oncology, efforts around neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, autism, schizophrenia and severe depression still have a long road ahead. And while breakthroughs for these illnesses may not be imminent, they represent the kind of life-altering medical advancements the biopharmaceutical industry strives for daily. Interestingly, Paul also suggests a new terminology for the discovery and development process as a whole. Rather than characterizing it as a “pipeline,” he prefers to see it as a complex and multi-level “architecture” that includes various facets of the process – from NIH funding of basic research, to  training the next generations of scientists, to a financial system that promotes investment. All of these components – and many more – are critical to discovering new treatments.

Marc mentioned his hopes for greater involvement in the drug development process for patients with chronic conditions. One initiative, the FDA’s Patient-Focused Drug Development program, is already underway to help incorporate more patient perspectives in the agency’s decision-making process.

Dr. Chin noted that while only a handful of the thousands of medicines currently in development will make it through the development and review process, nearly all will contribute to different and better approaches to research. Bill also opined that the “game changer” is the possibility of preventing disease, adding “the power of prevention is that it stops disease from transforming people into patients altogether.”

I want to thank the contributors for their responses this week and look forward to continuing this conversation about the future of medicine.

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