Alzheimer's drug development just as challenging as ever
- Industry lobbying group PhRMA on Thursday put out its latest report detailing the state of Alzheimer’s disease drug development.
- The report showcases the dire need for treatments for the devastating disease, but also highlights just how complicated it is to develop a drug for the devastating disease.
- According to PhRMA’s Medicines in Development report, there are currently 85 medicines being studied for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
More than five million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease — and that number is set to increase sharply to nearly 16 million by 2050 if no breakthrough treatments are found.
The disease cost the healthcare system $259 billion in 2017, with costs expected to rise to $1.1 trillion by 2050.
Alzheimer’s disease is a heavy burden for both patients and caregivers, as well as a major cost strain on the U.S. healthcare system.
Yet, as PhRMA's report notes with some self-interest, those costs might be reduced by $367 billion annually if a treatment could be developed that delayed onset of the disease by as much as five years.
Drug development has been notoriously difficult in the space. Only four drugs have been approved to treat Alzheimer’s disease between 1998 and 2014, while 123 drugs were halted in clinical trials over that period. Those few drugs that have been approved only treat symptoms like confusion and memory loss, but do not address underlying causes of slow disease progression.
Likely the most highly anticipated drug in development for disease at the moment is Axovant Sciences' intepirdine, which is currently in Phase 3. Results from the company's MINDSET study could come any day now and will show whether David Hung’s latest venture is a rare breakthrough or yet another entry in the growing list of setbacks.
CEO Hung is best known for his previous role leading Medivation, Inc., which had failed with its Alzheimer’s drug dimebon, but later made a turn around by focusing on oncology. Pfizer subsequently picked up the company in a $14 billion deal that validated Hung's pivot to cancer.
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