Press Release

Record Number of Mental Illness Medicines in Development

PhRMA April 25, 2013

Washington, D.C. (July 14, 2010) –– A record 313 new medicines to treat patients suffering from mental health disorders are being developed by America’s pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, according to a new report by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). An estimated 300 million people worldwide – including 60 million Americans – struggle with mental health problems.

The report was released today during National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month – a proclamation by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008 to bring attention to mental illness among minorities.

Although minorities in the U.S. have similar rates of most mental illness as whites, minorities are less likely to seek and obtain quality treatment, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Cultural beliefs and a lack of information result in increased stigmas about mental illness, and minorities who seek treatment are more likely to encounter barriers, including a lack of insurance.

Mental illnesses come in many different forms and impact patients in many different ways. Four-Time World Series champion and legendary Major League Baseball slugger Darryl Strawberry struggled with mental illness as he battled a potentially deadly form of cancer.

“As a two-time survivor of colon cancer, I know first-hand the hope that new medicines provide,” said Strawberry. “At the same time, my fight against cancer led me to experience depression and anxiety. My message to people battling cancer, mental illness or any other disease is simple: ‘Don’t ever give up. You’re in a tremendous fight, and it’s not going to be easy. There will be some long, painful days that you’ll have to walk through. But keep your head up.’”

The new report revealed that nearly a third of mental health medicines in development are aimed at treating dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease, which affects more than five million Americans.

“Tackling various types of dementia, which rob so many people of their independence and even their own identity, is a high priority for our innovative companies,” said Ken Johnson, senior vice president of PhRMA. “Scientists and other researchers are using cutting-edge technology to develop therapies to delay or even reverse the ravages of dementia.” Researchers are working on one medicine, for example, that would remove a complex protein from the brain to prevent or even reverse progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Success by even one of the 90 drugs being researched for dementia would reduce an untold amount of suffering by patients and their families,” said Johnson. “Such treatments can also save the health care system billions of dollars, especially as baby boomers age.”

For example, a recent report by the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that if a new treatment that delayed onset of Alzheimer’s by five years was available in 2015, the health care system could save $170 billion by 2030. Overall, serious mental illnesses cost the United States more than $317 billion annually in health care expenditures, lost wages and disability benefits.

Depression, which affects nearly 21 million Americans, represents the second-largest target of research into mental health disorders. America’s pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies are developing 71 medicines for depression, or mood disorders, and another 54 for schizophrenia. On average, a new medicine costs $1.3 billion and takes 10-15 years to research and develop.

The new medicines currently in the pipeline are all either in clinical trials or awaiting approval by the Food and Drug Administration. They include medicines for anxiety disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism and many other problems related to mental functioning.

Read the 2010 Medicines in Development for Mental Illness Report here. 

Patients seeking more information about clinical trials can search by medical condition and/or location at

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 $50.3 billion in 2008 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $65.2 billion in 2008.

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