Tuesday, August 01, 2017 by Ethan Huff
It’s no big secret that the pharmaceutical industry isn’t at all concerned with trying to advance the cause of improving public health by identifying the causes of age-related cognitive decline. But it sure is banking on raking in a windfall of profits trying to treating it, with the latest figures showing that pharmaceutical companies as a whole plan to release as many as 35 new drugs over the next five years to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
These multinational corporations are literally racing against one another to be the first to release these “blockbuster” drugs, which stand to generate billions of dollars in new profits for the legal drug cartels. Alzheimer’s, it turns out, is the next big market for the pharmaceutical kingpins, which up until now have had a difficult time producing drugs that actually work and are safe.
“The Alzheimer’s disease pipeline, marred by decades of failures and underinvestment, is due for big victories,” says George Vradenburg, co-founder and chairman of the group UsAgainstAlzheimer’s.
According to the Daily Mail Online, there are currently 23 drugs in Phase II and III trials that aim to target amyloid protein buildup in the brain, which is one believed-to-be cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Another 28 drugs are being rushed through the approval process to treat neurotransmitter activity.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved a novel treatment for Alzheimer’s since 2003, and Europe hasn’t approved one since 2002. Should any of these dozens of options make it through the regulatory gauntlet and receive commercial approval, they’ll represent the first in many years to do so.
Dementia is currently among the fastest growing category of disease affecting Americans, so it’s no wonder that Big Pharma wants to lock in a piece of the treatment pie. After all, dollar signs are the only thing drug company executives see – not lives, not quality of life, and certainly not doing the right thing for the purpose of helping people.
Currently the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., Alzheimer’s affects more than five-and-a-half million Americans. The costs of treating it are estimated to be $259 billion in 2017, a figure that’s expected to more than quadruple to $1.1 trillion in 2050 – can you say cha-ching for Big Pharma?
So far, there hasn’t been even a single experimental drug for dementia that’s successfully helped an Alzheimer’s patient improve. One study found that of all the experimental Alzheimer’s drugs tested between 2002 and 2012, a whopping 99.6 percent of them failed in trials.
Despite all this money spent (and wasted), Big Pharma continues to forge on in trying to find a drug-based solution for managing dementia conditions. It really doesn’t have a choice if it wants to recuperate its losses, it turns out, though whatever it ends up producing in the coming years is likely to fail as well because Alzheimer’s is a complex condition that won’t be solved by simply targeting a symptom or set of symptoms.
“The inherent problem in developing an effective AD therapy is that the build up of beta-amyloid plaques inside the brain is far from the entire story,” writes George Budwell for The Motley Fool.
“The emergence of neurofibrillary tangles composed primarily of an abnormal variation of the tau protein, after all, is a prominent feature of Alzheimer’s, even though it’s considered a downstream event (occurring after the formation of beta-amyloid plaques). Complicating matters further, most patients don’t become symptomatic until well after these toxic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles have already begun to form.”
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