The Times, They Are A-Changin'

The Times, They Are A-Changin'

05.04.11 | By Kate Connors

An article in today's Boston Globe refers to biopharmaceutical research companies "dedicating more resources to rare disorders, illnesses that are prevalent in the developing world, and medical conditions that affect minority populations in rich countries."

I can't speak to whether the broad range of ongoing research truly represents an increase (after all, it may vary by company), but I can affirm that it is going strong throughout the sector.

Our medicines in development reports demonstrate this: just see the reports on rare diseases, on African-American populations, on infectious diseases, and more.

The article, which highlights an ongoing two-day health equity symposium in Massachusetts that aims to bring together industry, academia, government researchers and policymakers, also addresses the ways that evolving science is changing the ways in which companies pursue their clinical research, naming personalized medicine as one key example that could continue to evolve.

The Globe quotes sanofi-aventis CEO and PhRMA chairman of the board Chris Viehbacher: "'People might say if you follow personalized medicine to an extreme, every disease is a rare disease.'"

Beyond medicines to target specific populations or medicines, the article also addresses expanding clinical research that evaluates how existing medicines - or simply medicines intended for a more-common illness - may affect specific under-represented populations.

"Minority populations may be more susceptible to certain diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, and may respond differently to medications," the article says.

Kenneth Getz, founder and chairman of the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation in Boston, explained: "When we think of the growth of the minority populations in our nation, this points to the need for us to be smarter and more targeted in the way we design our studies and the way we test in patient populations."

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