Setbacks Inspire Scientists to Carry On

Setbacks Inspire Scientists to Carry On

08.29.12 | By

I've read many interesting Forbes.com blog posts by John LaMattina, formerly the president of Pfizer R&D, but today's post about Alzheimer's research really stood out. Maybe it is because I've been busy highlighting PhRMA's upcoming Research and Hope Award ceremony focusing on Alzheimer's or perhaps I was simply inspired by all of the thoughtful questions he posed about the future of such research.

Either way, I thought he did a great job focusing on the tremendous challenges that biopharmaceutical companies face as they try to unravel one of the most complex diseases facing mankind.

John asks in the headline, "Will pharma companies get out of Alzheimer's disease R&D"? My personal response would be that there is simply too much at stake for patients and the economy to just give up and walk away, and I believe most of my colleagues in the biopharmaceutical industry would agree.

While there have been many setbacks in the drug discovery process for Alzheimer's, researchers have built on the knowledge they have learned from those setbacks to help move the science forward. As John pointed out in his post, scientists have gained a better understanding of certain processes that occur in the brain as the disease progresses. It's worth noting that this information was likely gained from some of the so-called "failures" in Alzheimer's R&D.

For the most part, people understand this concept. But what is often overlooked is that failures in the drug discovery process haven't stopped researchers from continuing their quest to discover new treatments or cures. If anything, setbacks can teach researchers important lessons and inspire them to carry on so that they can hopefully one day fulfill their dreams of helping those patients most in need.

As an industry dedicated to improving patient health, we realize such complex diseases cannot be solved by one part of the scientific ecosystem alone. No, it will require many different partners, including those in academia and federal research institutions. And without the unbelievable commitment of patient advocates whose heart and soul have gone into finding medical solutions for this truly devastating disease, we certainly wouldn't have come as far as we have in confronting such tremendous hurdles.

At the end of John's post, he rightly stated that, "Finding a treatment for AD is important to the health and economic well-being of the world. It's an area of research that needs to be more emphasized, despite the recent negative results." We couldn't agree more.

In just a couple weeks, PhRMA will be honoring those scientists and patient advocates who deserve recognition for all they have done to help the millions of patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease. All I can say is that if some of the stories about the awardees won't inspire you, then I don't know what will.

More to come on the ceremony soon!

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