Exciting New Medicines Bode Well for Future Innovation

Exciting New Medicines Bode Well for Future Innovation

02.11.13 | By Rick Smith

One of the most exciting stories of 2012 came at the very end of the year with the announcement that the FDA had approved 39 new medicines - a 16 year record high. Working in an industry whose mission is to help patients, this is gratifying. These medicines offer new hope for patients suffering from diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, colorectal cancer, and Cushing's disease.

The high number of approvals reflects a robust research ecosystem and a thriving biopharmaceutical pipeline.

In our Rx Minute newsletter we highlight just one example of the fast-paced science that is enabling cutting-edge biopharmaceutical research: a recent study has unveiled the genetic mechanisms of a particularly challenging form of cancer-known as triple-negative breast cancer. This type of cancer does not have any of the three main genetic markers that indicate the cancer will respond to available targeted treatments. For many of these patients the prognosis is grim with existing treatment methods. The new study identified five new genetic markers that hold promise for developing new medicines for triple negative breast cancer or for using existing treatments which are known to have an impact on these genetic pathways.

Research like this makes innovative biopharmaceutical research possible. As we have highlighted on this blog, PhRMA recently released two reports on drugs in the development pipeline. The reports indicate that researchers are pursuing more than 3,000 projects for cancer, many of which are building on research like this. Of the compounds encompassed in that total 80% are potentially first-in-class medicines which use a mechanism of action different from any medicine currently available to patients. First-in-class drugs are not the only innovative medicines, important clinical advances often come from medicines that are later in class. But this finding indicates a remarkably high proportion of unique approaches.

The medicines approved in 2012 represent the fruits of many years of research. Looking at the steady stream of important basic research findings and the diverse, robust pipeline of new medicines, I look forward to even greater progress in 2013 and beyond.

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