Sponsors using partnerships to speed development
Responding to strong and growing pressure to reduce development times and increase the output of new medicines, drug companies are engaging in innovative partnerships that are leading to, among other things, more molecular entities entering phase I trials and shorter study times, according to a panel of leaders from the drug research industry recently convened by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development.
“Drug developers have gotten the message that they need to innovate ‘better, faster, and cheaper’—without sacrificing patient safety—and partnering is proving to be an effective strategy,” said Tufts CSDD director Kenneth I Kaitin. “By aligning with others, drug developers are hoping to accelerate the translation of scientific findings into new medicines.”
The emphasis on speeding drug development is driven, in part, by the pending expiration of a number of patents on more than a dozen blockbuster drugs, putting potentially more than $200 billion in sales at risk over the next several years.
According to Kaitin, one large pharmaceutical company, teaming with external partners, reported increasing the number of new molecular entities entering phase I trials from an average of five a year to 16. The company said it raised its phase II success rates from 14% to 41% during a recent five-year period.
The industry executives, who met as part of the Tufts CSDD executive forum roundtable, also reported:
- A new entity, known as a technology scout organization, is helping large pharmaceutical companies identify enabling technologies and platforms that currently are not being commercialized.
- “Umbrella agreements” with large universities enable developers to broaden and deepen relationships with individual researchers—to identify advances with potential to be developed into marketable products.
- Trial sharing, in which two companies share the same phase I clinical trial, has enabled developers to quickly learn whether joint administration of their compounds can enhance therapeutic outcomes.