Incremental Innovation Series: IFPMA and Biopharmaceutical Progress

Incremental Innovation Series: IFPMA and Biopharmaceutical Progress

04.05.13 | By Randy Burkholder

A recent report from the IFPMA (the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations) adds to the growing body of work on the cumulative, step-wise nature of biopharmaceutical progress, with a particular focus on incremental innovation. The report provides several interesting examples, noting that the first angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor represented an important new treatment for high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, but also was found to have side effects such as itching and headaches. Subsequent research eliminated these side effects and expanded researchers' understanding of the enzyme involved. The report shows how progress, and patients, would be harmed by policies that undermines intellectual property or discourages introduction of additional medicines in a particular drug class. We are pleased to feature a blog post from Andrew Jenner, Director, Innovation, Intellectual Property and Trade, IFPMA, about this great study and the value of biopharmaceutical innovation: There have been many discussions lately on incremental innovation and global health. In order to contribute to this debate, we at IFPMA recently launched a new brochure: Incremental Innovation: Adapting to Patient Needs. This report highlights how incremental innovation improves medicines, explaining its scientific rationale, its medical value, and the economic incentives needed for its development. Incremental innovation increases treatment options available to healthcare providers and adapts medicines better to patients' needs. This process is marked by expanding the number of medicines within a therapeutic class, increasing the number of available dosing options, discovering new physiological interactions, and improving other properties of existing medicines. Such innovations often require as much research and development (R&D) and clinical trial investments as first-in-class medicines. Evidence-based discussions are key to advancing global health. This publication illustrates how biopharmaceutical innovation benefits patients by providing facts and examples of improved medicines and their impact on health. In this manner, this brochure helps provide context to the various commitments throughout medicines' R&D and dispels the misperception that incremental innovation is trivial. There are countless examples of the significant public health impact of incremental innovation. R&D efforts based on existing medicines have led to wide-ranging therapeutic improvements, such as a new use for an antifungal medicine's metabolite to treat Chagas disease, a neglected tropical disease affecting nearly 10 million people. Improved health outcomes have also been achieved by reducing the antimalarial dosing of ASAQTM from eight to two tablets daily. A case study cited in the report highlights an improved treatment of hepatitis C, which has boosted cure rates from 38% to 54%. Medical innovation has brought dramatic improvements in healthcare during the last several decades, but innovation, especially when related to health, is a step-by-step process. If we are going to effectively address non-communicable diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes, research must continually build on these lessons.

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