A Weekly Advocacy Message from Research!America: Will appropriators do the right thing for research?
Dear Research Advocate:
Research!America board member and co-chair of One Mind, Patrick Kennedy, and the head of neuroscience research at Janssen Research & Development, Husseini Manji, shared their perspectives on the state of neurological and mental health research and treatment in a USA Today op-ed. As Kennedy and Manji remind us, a quarter of our population experience mental illness, but nearly 60% of those individuals do not receive any treatment. Federal funding for medical and health research is crucial to improving diagnosis and treatment, and developing cures for patients who suffer from mental illness, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and a whole range of other diseases.
But time is ticking away on the appropriations process as the August recess approaches. With each passing day, the possibility of regular order diminishes and the likelihood of a continuing resolution (CR) increases. Yet all is not lost. Advocates must continue to push for increased funding for research and health agencies in FY15 (it would take the form of an “anomaly,” which is basically an exception to status quo). There has been talk, albeit muted, that some members may refuse to pass a CR and instead opt for a government shutdown, a scenario most Americans agree is harmful to federally funded programs, including medical research, according to our polling.
We learned first-hand the negative impact a government shutdown can have on research and clinical trials. Patients like Steve — featured in our sixth fact sheet installment — and others with Parkinson’s disease cannot afford delays in clinical trials. Please continue to share this fact sheet series with your networks and Members of Congress. They are generating buzz in congressional offices and getting the attention they deserve. Continue reading →
By Mark A. Reynolds, DDS, PhD, MA, dean of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry
The University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) is the world’s first dental school, founded in 1840 in Baltimore, Maryland. The school has a distinguished history of graduating exceptional dentists and dental hygienists who advance the oral and overall health of patients in Maryland and around the world.
Researchers at the School of Dentistry are dedicated to discovering and developing new treatments for diseases. Our scientists are leaders in the fields of oncology, pain and neuroscience, and microbial pathogenesis. UMSOD recognizes that training dental scientists is essential to improve the health of future generations. By offering unique mentorship opportunities and dual-degree programs, such as the combined DDS/PhD, the School of Dentistry provides an environment that encourages students to pursue research endeavors. Continue reading →
Is the patient voice adequately represented in the drug development process? The situation has improved but the patient community is not yet recognized as a co-equal in drug development or regulatory review according to Marc Boutin, executive vice president and chief operating officer at the National Health Council, a panelist at a BIO International Convention session on Wednesday. “We scare you,” declares Boutin who says there is an adversarial connection between patients, regulators and industry but the relationship has evolved over the last decade. Patient advocates have developed strategies to amplify their voice and demand access, providing the data and evidence to help transform healthcare delivery.
A section in the 2012 FDA Safety and Innovation Act fosters participation of patient representatives in appropriate FDA meetings with medical product sponsors and investigators, and a new transparent framework to communicate FDA benefit-risk approval decisions to the public. From the patient perspective, “benefit-risk decisions are value judgments, they are not science,” says Boutin. He acknowledges that FDASIA meetings are a critical step but sophisticated patient engagement is still lacking. In-depth interviews, focus groups, crowd sourcing and other strategies should be part of the equation, he adds. Getting the patient perspective in benefit-risk could change the discussion dramatically and improve healthcare delivery, Boutin says. Ensure that clinical trials are designed appropriately for people with chronic conditions, for example, to understand the benefit-risk for a subset of the population. Continue reading →
Maximizing the return on investment in quality innovation was the topic of a BIO International Convention Super Session on Tuesday which explored challenges and opportunities for pharmaceutical companies in improving efficiencies and ensuring patient safety. Panelist Martin VanTrieste, Senior Vice President, Quality, Amgen described a global initiative formed by industry and regulators to share knowledge and best practices that will help secure the pharmaceutical supply chain and quality of materials. Rx-360, a consortium of pharmaceutical companies, suppliers and regulatory agencies, is tasked with developing voluntary standards for the quality and authenticity of supplies and suppliers, and developing audit standards, training and certification programs. The goal is to prevent counterfeited, adulterated and contaminated materials from entering the supply chain, and jeopardizing patient safety. One tragic example was the introduction of contaminated heparin, a blood thinner, linked to 80 deaths in U.S. patients and allergic reactions in 2008. VanTrieste said the consortium “has been highly effective in bringing industry leaders in the quality and supply chain security space together to come up with common solutions” in addressing the very difficult problems associated with globalization. “By working together we get to the answer faster and it’s more efficient.” Continue reading →
Federally-funded research projects that have advanced medical innovation will be on full display at the BIO International Convention Innovation Zone June 23 – 26 in San Diego. Among the new technologies, a device to prevent secondary cataract formation developed with a National Institutes of Health SBIR grant awarded to Sharklet Technologies, Inc. Secondary cataract, a serious complication of cataract surgery, occurs in 25% to 50% of patients. This complication requires a follow-up laser treatment which presents an additional risk to patients and adds more than $300 million in medical costs per year in the U.S. The novel device, a micro-patterned membrane designed to be integrated into a next-generation intraocular lens that has added functionality to prevent secondary cataract formation, could have a significant impact on improving patient care and reducing health care costs.
Improving patient care was also the idea behind a device developed by Actuated Medical. Many patients rely on feeding tubes for medication, nutrition or decompression, however those tubes can sometimes become clogged. A solution was needed to reduce risk and discomfort for patients and lower the expense of tube removal and replacement. SBIR grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) helped take Actuated Medical’s feeding tube cleaning device from concept to FDA approval. Actuated Medical received a Phase I grant to investigate the technology and prove the feasibility of the device, and then a Phase II grant to develop the device from concept to verification-and-validation testing. Actuated Medical is also exploring various concepts that can be applied to reducing pain and understanding human hormones through the support of SBIR.
Elsewhere, researchers at P2D Bioscience received an NIH SBIR grant to test their lead compound which is an excellent anti-Alzheimer’s disease drug candidate.The research aims to develop an effective drug that can be taken orally to target the underlying neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s to modify disease progression and improve cognitive function.
The NIH and NSF require robust and sustained funding to support small businesses that are improving the health of Americans. Even if it brings no immediate benefits, a majority of Americans agree that basic scientific research is necessary and should be supported by the federal government, according to public opinion polling commissioned by Research!America.
Sharklet Technologies, Actuated Medical and P2D Bioscience are among the small businesses exhibiting at the BIO International Conference Innovation Zone #BIO2014. For more information about how the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant program is helping biotech companies across the country, visit: http://www.sbir.gov/
Technological advances have paved the way for researchers to access a wealth of data about the biological cause of disease. Yet translating these discoveries into treatments remains a challenge. Promising drugs often fail in late phase clinical trials, costing time and money, and leaving patients’ lives hanging in the balance. One reason is that the right biological targets were not chosen from the start.
To improve the current model for developing new diagnostics and treatments, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and several biopharmaceutical companies and non-profit organizations formed the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP), www.nih.gov/amp. “The good news is that recent dramatic advances in basic research are opening new windows of opportunity for therapeutics…But this challenge is beyond the scope of any one of us and it’s time to work together in new ways to increase our collective odds of success,” NIH Director Francis Collins, MD said in a press release. “We believe this partnership is an important first step and represents the most sweeping effort to date to tackle this vital issue.” Dr. Collins will be among the distinguished panelists at the “AMP-lifying Innovation” discussion on Wednesday, June 25 at the BIO International Convention in San Diego http://convention.bio.org/ #BIO2014 Continue reading →