President's Corner

Financial Incentives to Support Unmet Medical Needs for Nervous System Disorders Needed

Gail Maderis and other thought leaders convened in Washington DC to discuss the significant decrease in R&D investment in CNS diseases

Six of the top 10 global pharma have withdrawn from this area since 2009, including 4 of the 5 pharma with the largest CNS pipelines.  Yet new treatments for CNS could have tremendous impact on society; a five year delay in onset of Alzheimer’s could save $447 Billion by 2050. On January 20-21st the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies convened a group of thought leaders to discuss financial incentives to stimulate increased R&D funding for CNS diseases.

David Meeker, CEO of Genzyme, represented industry’s perspective on investment criteria in high-risk diseases.  Janet Woodcock, director of FDA’s CDER division, led a panel on innovative regulatory pathways for CNS drugs.  The Honorable Patrick Kennedy, founder of One Mind, gave an inspirational speech likening the need for action in neuroscience research to President Kennedy’s space race and advocating for a Congressional call to action in this area.

Maderis spoke on the value and costs of new treatments for patients and advocated for targeted programs to support early-stage breakthrough products through proof of concept.  Other speakers included Margaret Anderson, CEO of FasterCures, the President of the American Psychiatric Association, the Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, and other senior executives from biopharma, academia, government and disease foundations.

The emphasis of the meetings was on “pull incentives” – regulatory, IP and policy changes that would stimulate pharma R&D without requiring funding.  A Neuron journal article summarizing the problem and proposed pull incentives is attached.