Monday, January 08, 2007

The Creativity Crisis Continues

I’ve mentioned this theme earlier. PharmaGossip and Merrill Goozner, among others have been banging this drum for much longer than I. The problem is that, on one hand pharmaceutical companies bemoan the allegedly huge costs of research and development. On the other hand, there have been a lack of innovative developments.

For example, the FDA has now approved Invega as a treatment for schizophrenia. The active ingredient?

“Although the drug contains an active substance never before approved by the FDA, that substance is an active metabolite of an old drug, the atypical antipsychotic Risperdal (risperidone), which is marketed for treating schizophrenia.”

Who developed Invega? Janssen, which also developed and markets Risperdal. Not coincidentally, Risperdal will soon be going off-patent. So, as generic competition swoops in, Janssen wants to keep its patients on its high-cost med, which, of course, is now switching from Risperdal to Invega.

Are there likely to be clinical advantages for Invega over Risperdal? Nope. It’s too similar to Risperdal to expect any notable differences. So, scientifically, it would have of course made better sense to develop something different, but this ain’t about science or benefiting patients…

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