Fail Until You Succeed

Fail Until You Succeed

09.14.12 | By Preet Bilinski

This summer there have been two high-profile Alzheimer's drug failures. These setbacks are extremely disappointing to us all but particularly for patients and their families, health care providers, and the researchers working on these potential new medicines.

Successful new drug approvals and spectacular failures (as they are often called) capture our attention. But what we tend to focus on less is the relationship between the two. Setbacks are an integral and inevitable part of getting to successes.

Far from failures, these unsuccessful drug trials provide new information that can guide future research and redirect projects currently underway. This is just the way medical progress happens.

A new PhRMA report finds that since 1998 there have been 101 unsuccessful drugs intended to treat Alzheimer's disease. In that time we have seen 3 new approvals for Alzheimer's symptoms - a 34 to one ratio of setbacks to successes.

The setbacks we have seen this summer are part of the research path to finding better treatments. While it is difficult to see hopes dashed, researchers are already combing through the results and preparing to try again.

As I write this, scientists are working on nearly 100 medicines which are now in development or review by the Food and Drug Administration. The path to medicines that delay, prevent, slow or even cure Alzheimer's disease will not be a straight line but with continued commitment to innovation we will get there.

Note from The Catalyst editors: Gretta Stone currently serves as Senior Director of Policy for PhRMA.

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