Major pharma players join Parkinson’s project

Seven of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies have signed up to a consortium aimed at accelerating the development of effective and safe Parkinson’s therapies.

The groundbreaking Critical Path for Parkinson’s consortium will bring together AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Biogen, Eli Lilly and Company, Merck Sharp and Dohme (Merck & Co. Inc. in the US and Canada), Pfizer, and UCB. Leading academics and founders the Critical Path Institute (C-Path) and Parkinson’s UK will also join the consortium to share data, expertise and resources to promote and develop new treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

Launched in October 2015, the consortium was formed to increase investment into research and development of new Parkinson’s treatments. Parkinson’s UK is the principal funder of the initiative, committing over £1million.

Dr Arthur Roach, Director of Research at Parkinson’s UK, said: “Despite significant advances in our understanding of the genetics, biochemistry and pathology of Parkinson’s, the development of new treatments has not kept pace. New treatments are desperately needed to deal with the devastating effects of this progressive condition.

“Investing in clinical trials for brain disorders currently carries a high cost and high risk of failure. We know that people living with conditions such as Parkinson’s have often been disappointed when drugs that showed significant promise early on failed in late stage testing. We see the consortium as a crucial part of strategies to develop new treatments that work at the earliest stage of the condition, with the goal of slowing its progression, and eventually finding a cure.”

Parkinson’s affects 127,000 people in the UK, with around 7 million people worldwide affected by the condition. The NHS spent over £212 million on caring for people with Parkinson’s in England in 2012-2013, while the cost of the condition in the US is estimated to cost $25 billion a year. With the increase in the ageing population continuing, the number of people with neurodegenerative conditions, including Parkinson’s, could become one of the biggest issues faced by healthcare.

Dr Diane Stephenson, Executive Director, Critical Path for Parkinson’s consortium, C- Path, said: “There is a strong realisation from the industry that collaboration among industry, academia, and worldwide regulatory agencies, along with the sharing of data, has the potential to create a more efficient development process. This recognition is evidenced by the fast pace at which members of this new consortium have joined.”