Monday, May 7, 2007

Fox Outlines the Pharmaceutical Pipeline and the Need for New Treatments

In a session entitled "Driving the Development and Availability of Novel Therapies," Michael J. Fox gave a keynote address today about the need for new approaches to speed translation of investments in research and discovery into patient-relevant advances in human health.

He wants the industry to look for strategies and solutions to lower the risk to the high cost investment in novel therapeutics for the biotechnology industry and academia alike. Noting the need for more developments, he pointed out that he has been treated for the last 15 years with a drug that was developed 40 years ago.

Fox believes that in the $100 billion a year drug discovery pipeline, the need is not for more money but for re-purposing the money available. While joking that anti-depressants are available for his dog (and his dog is thankful), he noted that perhaps more groups could work together to define different standards for success. That is, better treatments for devastating diseases.

Fox noted that it's a high-stakes game and that companies need to be successful financially, too. He wants more investment in the early stages of development -- effectively bridging the funding gap left between the early-stage, fundamental research supported by the NIH and the vast amounts of money spent on clinical trials by the private sector -- so that more drugs can be developed with a lower risk to companies. A strategy to "de-risk" the drug pipeline.

Fox contends that more dollars earlier in the game will bring greater break-throughs in therapeutics, even if it doesn't increase profits for the industry. For his part, he founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research for raising research funding for and awareness about Parkinson's disease. He is certainly a very powerful speaker and a motivating force as a spokesperson for change. It is impossible to hear his words without being moved to get involved.

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