Pillhead

the personal views of a doctor in industry

A Walk in the Valley of Death

with one comment

The NIH has announced quite loudly that it is taking a bold step in helping to find cures for rare and neglected diseases (NIH Announces New Program to Develop Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases, NIH News). So what do the numbers look like?

 

According to a recent NIH press release, the atrition rate in the pre-clinical phase of development is so bad that researchers call it the “valley of death”! They think 80-90% of compounds fail to make it to human testing; some inside industry think that even this is low-balling it, and that number is closer to 90% (The NIH Takes the Plunge, In the Pipeline).

 

Some more numbers from the NIH press release:

  • “NIH estimates that, in total, more than 6,800 rare diseases afflict more than 25 million Americans. However, effective pharmacologic treatments exist for only about 200 of these illnesses.”

  • “Studies suggest that it currently takes more than a dozen years … to take a potential drug from discovery to the marketplace”

  • “it takes two to four years of work and $10 million, on average, to move a potential medicine though this preclinical process”

The WSJ reports that, “Stephen Groft, the director of the rare diseases office, said the program is starting with $24 million in funding this year with expectation of receiving the same amount each year until 2013”

  • USD24 million for 4 years is an investment of USD92 million;
  • Each drug costs USD10 million “on average” to get through pre-clinical development, and so there is enough money to develop about 10 candidates;
  • 90% of these candidates will fail, leaving just one successful compound;
  • With the timelines given, this compound would come to market in 2020;
  • According to Steven Paul, President at Lilly Research Laboratories the chance of getting from phase 2 trials to market is 1 in 8 (Blockbuster Drugs and Innovation) – I cannot find the ph1 attrition rate;

 

This program has about a 12% chance of resulting in one effective treatment in 2020 for one out of the 6600 untreated rare diseases.

 

It is a step in the right direction, but let’s not get carried away.

 

Advertisements

Written by Pillhead

May 22, 2009 at 3:33 pm

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. According to PhRMA (2007 vintage) literature of 5 compounds that enter Phase I only 1 will make it through get approval. I recall having previously seen numbers such as 15:1 down to 3:1 although could have been for specific areas/companies. Regardless do agree with your conclusion that this effort NIH moving in a right direction but odds (whatever the calculation) are low. This “seed” money hopefully will stimulate some needed progress in certain rare areas but appears to insufficient to pay for overall cost of development in disease that would be required.

    CMCguy

    May 22, 2009 at 6:45 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: