Obama forms partnership to accelerate medication discoveries

Feb. 4, 2014 at 6:15 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- A new U.S. program will accelerate the development of life-saving drugs and identify new treatments for Alzheimer's and diabetes, President Barack Obama says.

"Today, my administration is taking action to accelerate the development of life-saving drugs and to help identify new treatments and cures for diseases like Alzheimer's and diabetes," Obama said in a statement.

"This new public-private partnership -- the Accelerating Medicine Partnership -- combines the considerable resources of America's government with the innovation of our private sector companies in an effort to find new answers to today's domestic and global public health challenges."

The AMP aims to distinguish biological targets of disease most likely to respond to new therapies and characterize biological indicators of disease, or biomarkers.

Through the Foundation for the National Institute of Health, AMP partners will invest more than $230 million over five years in the first projects, which focus on Alzheimer's disease, type 2 diabetes and the autoimmune disorders rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, health officials say.

The National Institutes of Health, 10 biopharmaceutical companies and several non-profit organizations became partners to transform the current model for identifying and validating the most promising biological targets of disease for new diagnostics and drug development.

The AMP includes: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the NIH, AbbVie, Biogen Idec, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi, Takeda and eight non-profit groups.

As a result of technological revolutions in genomics, imaging, and more, researchers were able to identify many changes in genes, proteins and other molecules that predispose to disease and influence disease progression.

While researchers have identified thousands of such biological changes that hold promise as biomarkers and drug targets, only a small number have been pursued.

Choosing the wrong target can result in failures late in the development process, costing time, money and ultimately, lives, health officials say.

Currently, developing a drug from early discovery through FDA approval takes more than a decade and has a failure rate of more than 95 percent. As a consequence, each success costs more than $1 billion, health officials say.

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