Press Release

Nearly 100 New Medicines in Development for Arthritis

PhRMA July 24, 2014

Washington, D.C. (July 24, 2014) — America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are developing 92 innovative new medicines to help the millions of Americans affected by arthritis, according to a new report by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). These medicines in development – all either in clinical trials or under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – include 55 for rheumatoid arthritis, 15 for musculoskeletal pain, 10 for osteoarthritis and 7 for psoriatic arthritis.

Arthritis is part of a group of related musculoskeletal diseases consisting of more than 100 different conditions that affect more than 52 million people in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The new report conveys a variety of novel approaches building on our growing knowledge of disease and scientific progress to tackle this challenging chronic disease. Examples include:

  • A medicine for ankylosing spondylitis selectively binds to and neutralizes a protein which causes inflammation and affects bone biology.
  • A medicine for osteoarthritis combines two monoclonal antibodies allowing the medicine to target two different pro-inflammatory proteins.
  • A medicine for psoriatic arthritis prevents a protein from exerting its full effect leading to possible inflammation.
  • A medicine for rheumatoid arthritis targets the receptor of a stimulating factor that is key in the inflammatory process.

There are currently 155 active clinical trials for arthritis in the U.S., including 97 that have not yet started recruiting patients or have just begun to seek volunteers to participate. The development of new, innovative therapies would not be possible without the patients who volunteer to participate in clinical trials. These trials, in combination with the promising new scientific approaches researchers are using, build on the progress against arthritis.

Therapeutic advances have transformed the rheumatoid arthritis treatment paradigm over the last 20 years, from focusing on symptom management to now aiming for slowed disease progression and even disease remission. Disease-modifying biological medicines have ushered in a new age of treatment by targeting the cells involved in the progression of the disease. These medicines have dramatically slowed or even reversed the negative physical effects associated with the disease and made clinical remission possible for patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis.

To build on this momentum, PhRMA, 10 biopharmaceutical companies, and several non-profit disease foundations joined the National Institutes of Health in partnership to explore promising new technologies together and to address tough scientific problems that may lead to advances against our most costly and challenging diseases through the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP).  AMP is working to transform the current model for developing diagnostics and treatments by jointly identifying and validating promising biological targets of disease. The autoimmune diseases of rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus were chosen as the focus of one of three initial pilot programs.

“Biopharmaceutical research companies are working with partners across the ecosystem to bring treatments to help ease the pain and suffering caused by arthritis, but challenges remain,” said PhRMA President and CEO John J. Castellani. “The 92 medicines in the pipeline today offer tremendous hope for patients looking for new solutions to one of the most common chronic health conditions.”

According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is the most common cause of disability. It is responsible for 44 million outpatient doctor visits and nearly one million hospitalizations each year.  The economic burden of arthritis and related musculoskeletal diseases to the American economy is estimated at nearly $128 billion annually in direct medical costs and indirect costs, such as lost wages and productivity.  The cost will only increase by the year 2030, when an estimated 67 million or 25% of the projected total adult population will have arthritis, the CDC projects.

Our ability to prevent, manage and treat arthritis has progressed dramatically in recent years, due in large part to the discovery and availability of new innovative medicines. New medicines today in the research and development pipeline offer hope of reducing not only the economic costs of arthritis affecting Americans but the immense human burden. 

In addition to information on some of the medicines in the pipeline, the new report delves into treatment advances for rheumatoid arthritis, the importance of collaborative partnerships to advance research, and comprehensive facts about arthritis and related musculoskeletal diseases in the United States.

About PhRMA

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading innovative biopharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to discovering and developing medicines that enable patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. Since 2000, PhRMA member companies have invested more than $550 billion in the search for new treatments and cures, including an estimated $51.1 billion in 2013 alone.

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