[Ip-health] U.S. takes step to government drug development center

Joana Ramos jdr at ramoslink.info
Wed Dec 8 06:30:48 PST 2010


By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON | Tue Dec 7, 2010

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government took a big step toward 
getting more involved in developing drugs on Tuesday, when advisers to 
the National Institutes of Health recommending setting up a new center 
to do it.

The new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences would do 
some of the dirty work that pharmaceutical companies cannot or will not 
do, by taking promising but uncertain basic scientific findings out of 
the test tube and finding ways to use them to treat people, NIH Director 
Dr. Francis Collins said.

NIH has never done anything quite like this," Collins said in a 
telephone interview.

"We are asking how can we improve the success of getting the ideas from 
an early stage to a successful clinical trial, because there is a 
terrible failure rate right now."

The pharmaceutical company lobbying group PhRMA estimates that out of 
every 5,000 compounds screened for their potential to become drugs, only 
250 make it out of the lab and into animals and only one finally gets 
approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

PhRMA says it can take as long as 15 years and cost more than $800 
million to get there.

NIH has long helped develop new drugs -- Taxol, a cancer drug made from 
tree bark, started development in a National Cancer Institute lab. 
Collins said the new institute would not interfere with these efforts 
but would instead be a place to coordinate them better.

NIH's Scientific Management Review Board voted on Tuesday to recommend 
establishment of the new center -- something Collins immediately 
embraced, as it was an idea he has been pushing since he took over in 

Joana Ramos, MSW
Cancer Resources& Advocacy
Seattle WA USA

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