Hope on the Horizon for Arthritis Patients

Nearly 100 Medicines in Development for One of the Most Common Chronic Health Problems

08.04.14 | By Preet Bilinski

Today, more than 52 million Americans are affected by arthritis and related musculoskeletal diseases, consisting of more than 100 different conditions, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC projects prevalence of musculoskeletal diseases could increase to 67 million by 2030 if current trends continue. The good news is our ability to prevent, manage and treat chronic diseases, such as arthritis, has progressed dramatically in recent years, due in large part to the discovery and availability of new innovative medicines.

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PhRMA’s latest Medicines in Development report highlights the 92 medicines currently in development to help the millions of Americans affected by arthritis. These medicines are either in clinical trials or awaiting review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Of the nearly 100 medicines in development, 55 are for rheumatoid arthritis, which affects 1.5 million adults. Ten of the medicines are for osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis which affects nearly 27 million Americans. Seven of the medicines could improve treatment options for psoriatic arthritis, which affects approximately 30 percent of people with psoriasis.

Arthritis does not just affect the elderly

Two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65, including nearly 300,000 children, and juvenile arthritis is one of the most common childhood diseases in the United States. However, children with juvenile arthritis and their parents have reason to be optimistic says Nikolay Nikolov, a rheumatologist and clinical team leader at the FDA. In the last several years, new therapies developed by drug companies and approved by the FDA moderate the effects and control the disease, likely preventing significant disability in later years. 

Transforming the lives for rheumatoid arthritis patients

There has been significant progress in recent years in our ability to diagnose and treat rheumatoid arthritis. These gains have been realized over time as our understanding of the underlying disease continues to expand as researchers and physicians learn more about optimal use of both new therapeutics and existing treatments, including uses in combination with other therapies, use earlier in the treatment line, or use in different disease indications.

Partnering for patients 

Earlier this year, PhRMA joined the National Institutes of Health, 10 biopharmaceutical companies, and several non-profit disease foundations in the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) with the goal of increasing the number of new therapies and diagnostics for patients while reducing the time and cost of developing.  AMP is working to transform the current development model by jointly identifying and validating promising biological targets of disease. The autoimmune diseases of rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus were chosen as the focus of one of three initial pilot programs.

The progress we’re making today is encouraging, but we know that there is much more work to be done to help patients with one of the most common chronic health problems in the United States. The nearly 100 medicines in this report provide hope to Americans who live with this debilitating condition and are seeking to live fuller and more active lives.

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