by Nancy Marshall Genzer
A coalition of drug companies is releasing a new database on Alzheimer’s disease today to help lower research and development costs and get drugs the market faster. The new database includes information on 11 clinical trials, involving 4,000 Alzheimer’s patients.
The FDA and researchers around the world will have access to the information, including patient MRIs and scores from mental acuity tests. Big pharma groups like GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer pooled their funding for the project with cooperation from the Food and Drug Administration.
Doctor Raymond Woosley, who heads the Critical Path Institute which helped create the database, says the database will give drug developers a head start. “You can find out if a drug is really working, without having to do a five-year trial,” he says.
Since the FDA will be using the same database, it may take less time to get new drugs approved — and be less costly. Woosley says it costs a lot for drugmakers to create new medications working on their own. “The failure rate during development, the cost of development, have created a real untenable business model,” he says.
Drug companies are usually reluctant to share the results of years of expensive research, according to Woosley. They’re also wary of antitrust laws. But lawyers have signed off on the new database, and another one is already in the works for Parkinson’s disease.
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