Press Release

Nearly 200 Medicines in Development for Mental Illnesses

PhRMA April 25, 2013

Washington, D.C. (July 12, 2012) — America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are developing 187 innovative medicines to help the nearly 60 million patients in the United States who are suffering from some form of mental illness. The medicines in development – all in either clinical trials or under review by the Food and Drug Administration – include 52 for depression, 37 for schizophrenia and 26 for anxiety disorders, according to a new report released by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

“Mental illnesses do not discriminate and can have a profound impact on people’s lives,” said PhRMA President and CEO John J. Castellani. “They come in many different forms and impact patients in many different ways. That is why biopharmaceutical research companies are working on new and better paths of treatment for patients battling these disabling conditions.”

Research shows that mental disorders are common throughout the United States, affecting millions of people each year, and that only a fraction of those impacted receive treatment. Over the past half century, biopharmaceutical research has helped transform mental illnesses from misunderstood causes of shame and fear into manageable conditions. For example, medicines for treating depression are helping thousands of people live productive lives, whereas medicines for schizophrenia have enabled patients to be treated in community settings rather than being institutionalized.

Despite such progress, mental illnesses continue to exact a heavy human and economic toll. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that 1 in 4 American adults are affected by a diagnosable mental disorder. According to the NIMH, serious mental illnesses cost the United States more than $317 billion annually in lost wages, health care expenditures, and disability benefits.

America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are exploring many different approaches to tackle mental illness. Examples include:

  • A medicine to potentially treat the various symptoms associated with schizophrenia, with diminished side effects.
  • An intranasal medicine for anxiety which has been shown to improve symptoms within several minutes of administration.
  • A potential first-in-class medicine for the treatment of major depression that recruits the patients’ own neural stem cells to protect  the central nervous system against damage from chronic exposure to stress.

Such potential cutting-edge innovations reflect the continuing commitment of biopharmaceutical research companies to discover new solutions for mental illnesses and other diseases. According to data from the National Science Foundation, the biopharmaceutical sector accounts for nearly 20 percent of all domestic R&D funded by U.S. businesses – the single largest share of all U.S. business R&D.

PhRMA’s 2012 Medicines in Development for Mental Illnesses report does not include medicines for Alzheimer’s disease. A separate report specific to Alzheimer’s will be released later in the year.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $49.5 billion in 2011 in discovering and developing new medicines.

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