An end to psychiatric drug development?

PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer's disease
Is Pharma Running Out of Brainy Ideas? “On 4 February, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced that it planned to pull the plug on drug discovery in some areas of neuroscience, including pain and depression. A few weeks later, news came that AstraZeneca was closing research facilities in the United States and Europe and ceasing drug-discovery work in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. These cutbacks by two of the top players in drug development for disorders of the central nervous system have raised concerns that the pharmaceutical industry is pulling out, or at least pulling back, in this area. In direct response to the cuts at GSK and AstraZeneca, the Institute of Medicine Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders organized a meeting in late June that brought together leaders from government, academia, and private foundations to take stock. But the biggest problem, researchers say, is that there is almost nothing in the pipeline that gives any hope for a transformation in the treatment of mental illness. That’s worrying, they say, because the need for better treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders is vast. Hundreds of millions of people are afflicted worldwide. Yet for some common disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease, no truly effective treatments exist; for others, like depression, the existing drugs have limited efficacy and substantial side effects.” ( Science)

One thought on “An end to psychiatric drug development?

  1. I’m guessing the real subtext here is that it’s more profitable to create more drugs that work on new conditions that don’t really need treating (as they did by creating drugs to help people reach completely arbitrary cholesterol numbers) than to do the long, hard, expensive work necessary to find some drugs that actually work on conditions that do need treating. After all, they can continue heavily advertising the mental health drugs that don’t work and gullible people will continue to demand them from their doctors.


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