Search for Parkinson’s Disease Treatment Prompts Major Pharmaceuticals to Join Groundbreaking Consortium

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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Seven large pharmaceutical companies have joined a groundbreaking consortium to accelerate the development of safe and effective therapies for Parkinson’s disease.

The Critical Path for Parkinson’s (CPP) Consortium was launched in October 2015 by founders Critical Path Institute (C-Path) and Parkinson’s UK, with a £1 million commitment. Now, according to a press release, it brings together leading scholars and industry members, including UCB; Pfizer; Merck & Co; Eli Lilly and Company; Biogen; AstraZeneca; and AbbVie, to share data, expertise and resources to advance new treatments for this debilitating disease.

In the United Kingdom alone, 127,000 people are estimated to be affected by Parkinson’s; worldwide, that number jumps to approximately seven million. In 2012-2013, the condition cost the U.S. an estimated $25 billion and, as the baby boomer generation ages, the number of people who are diagnosed with neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s is estimated to increase and become one of the biggest challenges the healthcare industry faces.

In 2015, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) estimated the development of just one drug would cost approximately $1.3 billion – a huge leap from $138 million in 1978.

“With the increase in the costs of getting a drug to market, the design of a clinical trial is a crucial part of a drug’s success. There is a strong realization from the industry that collaboration among industry, academia, and worldwide regulatory agencies, along with the sharing of data, has the potential to create a more efficient development process. This recognition is evidenced by the fast pace at which members of this new consortium have joined,” said Diane Stephenson, Ph.D., executive director of the Critical Path for Parkinson’s consortium at the Critical Path Institute (C-Path).

“Despite significant advances in our understanding of the genetics, biochemistry, and pathology of Parkinson’s, the development of new treatments has not kept pace,” said Arthur Roach, Ph.D., director of research at Parkinson’s UK. “New treatments are desperately needed to deal with the devastating effects of this progressive condition. Investing in clinical trials for brain disorders currently carries a high cost and high risk of failure.

“As the world’s largest patient-led Parkinson’s charity, we know that people living with conditions such as Parkinson’s have often been disappointed when drugs that showed significant promise early on failed in late-stage testing,” Roach said. “We see the consortium as a crucial part of strategies to develop new treatments that work at the earliest stage of the condition, with the goal of slowing its progression and eventually finding a cure.”

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