With 3D printers that create human body parts to wearable technologies that transmit patients’ vitals in real-time to physicians, the paradigm of drug development is changing more rapidly than ever before. While the opportunities for innovation are boundless, recent figures from FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, suggest that there are still only 500 treatments available for an estimated 7,000 known diseases.
At AstraZeneca, we’re committed to pushing the boundaries of drug development to get our medicines in the hands of those who need them most. This isn’t easy. For example, according to PhRMA, it takes drug companies 10-15 years to develop a new medicine, and costs $1 billion on average. For good reason, there are many laws and regulations that govern every step of the development process, but we need to ensure these laws do not unnecessarily hinder innovation.
That’s why we’re excited to see the Committee on Energy and Commerce, part of the U.S. House of Representatives, taking a comprehensive look for the first time at how they can help pave the way for new cures and treatments for patients through the 21st Century Cures Initiative. The Committee on Energy and Commerce has responsibility for a number of the nation’s key priorities, including food and drug safety, and oversight of multiple agencies like the Food and Drug Administration. Over the next several months, the Committee will continue to focus its efforts on finding ways to expedite the discovery, development and delivery of innovative treatments to patients. Representatives will examine how we conduct research, looking at newly available technologies and assessing the need to break down outdated administrative and procedural hurdles, to ensure the U.S. remains a leader in biomedical innovation. And they’re asking for input.
Many key industry stakeholders have submitted recommendations to benefit the healthcare industry and patients around the world. On August 12, the President of AstraZeneca U.S., Paul Hudson, and Chief Medical Officer, Briggs Morrison, pledged our support for the initiative and submitted our recommendations, which:
- ask the Committee to support translational research (research that turns basic discoveries into applicable outcomes);
- encourage the modernization of the clinical trial ecosystem;
- promote the regulatory acceptance of modern clinical trial designs, tools and methodologies; and
- suggest that the Committee ensure that payers and formularly committees have relevant information about medicines from manufacturers to speed patient access to newly developed medicines.
It is our hope that these recommendations, taken together, can help to transform the healthcare industry, improve the lives of patients and dramatically enhance the current standard of care. We’ve already had several discussions with the Energy and Commerce Committee, and we applaud their efforts to look at how the Congress can play a role in accelerating progress in advancing medicine. We look forward to continuing this dialogue as part of our efforts to deliver on our ambition to achieve scientific leadership.