Why Meds in Development?

Potential Medicines in the Biopharmaceutical Pipeline

04.22.13 | By

PhRMA explores the potential medicines in the biopharmaceutical pipeline on a regular basis through our Medicines in Development reports and other related efforts. Simply put, the pipeline is the foundation of PhRMA member companies.

But what do the numbers really tell us? For example, later this week we will be unveiling a new report on the number of medicines in development for blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma.  The ongoing research reflected in this report will represent hope. Hope that progress can be made, that patients can be cured.

We know that many of these potential compounds will not make it through the testing and clinical trial phases. That is how medical science works. And that is ok. Because we keep trying. We look for the compounds and pathways that might lead us to the next new medicine. That medicine might be deemed a breakthrough. Or it might be an improvement on existing therapies – the next step in progressive innovation.

A great illustration of the realities of drug discovery and development is a report we issued last fall showing that between 1998 and 2011, 101 potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease failed to reach patients.  In the same time period, three medicines were approved to treat symptoms of the disease. This 34 to 1 ratio of setbacks to successes reflects the unbelievable difficulty of developing new medicines for complex diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Earlier this year, we supported a report by the Analysis Group which revealed that there are more than 5,000 new medicines in the pipeline globally. Of these projects in various phases of clinical development, 70 percent are potential first-in-class medicines.

Will they all make it through the drug development process and be approved for patient use? No, of course not. Far from it. But there is great value in knowing the vast efforts underway to tackle disease and bring new solutions to patients. Check out our Innovation Hub for more information on the discovery process.

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