Bruce E. Bloom DDS, JD Cures Within Reach

Repurposing Drugs Provides a Quick, Affordable, And Effective Way to Create “New” Treatments for Unsolved Diseases

Repurposing research improves patient lives by taking drugs approved for one disease and clinically testing them to create a “new” treatment for a different “unsolved disease.” An unsolved disease is disease in which one or more of the following is true:

  • There is not a currently effective treatment.
  • There is a treatment that is effective for only a portion of the patient population.
  • There is a treatment that is effective for all of the patient population, but it is very expensive, and therefore some patients cannot get access to the treatment.
  • There is a treatment that is effective for all of the patient population with a significant side effect profile, and so for some the side effects actually outweigh the benefits of the treatment.

There are currently over 7000 of these unsolved diseases.1 The bioscience industry is increasingly engaged with repurposing that can provide a profit, such as the repurposing of thalidomide for multiple myeloma2 and the repurposing of sildenafil for both erectile dysfunction3 and pulmonary arterial hypertension.4 However, even at its most productive, the bioscience industry will not be able to find de novo or repurposed solutions to all of the unsolved diseases, and even if they could, many of the repurposed solutions will not create sufficient profit to suit the bioscience industry model.

When the repurposed drug is generic, inexpensive, and widely available from a variety of manufacturers, and when the drug can be taken in the current dosage and formulation in the new indication, there is little or no profit to be gained from doing all of the clinical and other work necessary to gain FDA or other regulatory marketing approval, and so the bioscience industry does not have any reason to fund these repurposing projects. Philanthropy funds them, and occasionally government funds them, but that funding is often hard to secure, and currently insufficient to help find a repurposed solution for each of the 7000+ unsolved diseases.

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ASSAY & Drug Development Technologies, published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., offers a unique combination of original research and reports on the techniques and tools being used in cutting-edge drug development. GEN presents here one article "Creating New Economic Incentives for Repurposing Generic Drugs for Unsolved Diseases Using Social Finance" originally published in the December 2015 issue of ASSAY & Drug Development Technologies. The views expressed here are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of ASSAY & Drug Development Technologies, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers, or their affiliates. No endorsement of any entity or technology is implied.

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