A New Approach to Drug Development

Escalating clinical costs require us to look for new funding sources and new techniques to lower costs. CALBIO2012: Driven By Patients examines new paths to interact with patient groups and disease foundations in order to accelerate clinical trials and fund innovation.

As part of our ongoing efforts to connect you with disease foundations and patient groups, we asked Myelin Repair Foundation President Scott Johnson to provide us with a guest article in the President’s Desk.

A New Approach to Drug Development: Driven by Patients

By Scott Johnson, president and founder of the Myelin Repair Foundation

When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1976, I was told there would be a cure in 30-50 years. If I were diagnosed today, I would be told the same thing.

My frustration in response to my diagnosis and lack of a cure led me to some interesting statistics about the drug discovery process, including:

  • Each year, $139 billionU.S. dollars are invested in medical research
  • Last year, only 21 new drugs were approved by the FDA for all diseases

With so much innovation coming out of the biotech industry in California—from the patient perspective, the time spent on waiting for a cure can be discouraging. According to a recent analysis by the Boston Consulting Group, between 1995 and 2005, the number of new medicines coming to market remained flat. Surprisingly, this number is no greater than it was 50 years ago.

For a brief overview of the challenges facing the industry in new drug discoveries for disease cures, please view the 3-min video below:

I have made it my mission to bring the focus of drug development back to the patient. Given my experience as a business consultant and serial entrepreneur for over 25 years, I started the Myelin Repair Foundation (MRF) in 2003 to tackle the industry challenges facing new disease medicines head on. The barriers can seem overwhelming—issues arise from the academic scientific lab bench to the biopharma company level—but these are challenges, I learned, that are not impossible to overcome. I am confident that innovation in the biotech industry will continue to bring new cures for disease, particularly from California, where we are lucky enough to have leading biotech companies in our own backyard.

CALBIO 2012’s theme “Driven by Patients” couldn’t have come at a better time—this is a mantra we live and breathe at MRF every day.

Myelin Repair Foundation: MRF’s “Saving Lives with Faster Treatments” video: