Bad news for Neuroscience R&D

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Bad news for neuroscience research as big pharma scale down their research and development activities in this area.


“Novartis has joined other pharmaceutical companies in abandoning traditional drug-discovery programmes that pursue treatments for brain disorders….. It follows similar moves by GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, both based in the United Kingdom, which last year announced the closure of all their neuroscience research divisions globally. US-based companies Pfizer and Merck, as well as the French company Sanofi, have also pulled back on research into brain disorders. Rather than abandon neuroscience, however, Novartis says it will launch new programmes to study the genetics of psychiatric and cognitive disorders, in the hope of identifying new treatment strategies.”


More Cuts At AstraZeneca

“AstraZeneca will shed 7,300 jobs, over 10% of its workforce, including some 2,200 R&D positions; neuroscience research activities will see the most change. The company is shuttering its R&D site in Montreal and ending R&D activity in Södertälje, Sweden. Instead, a virtual neuroscience unit comprising 40 to 50 AstraZeneca scientists will work outside of the company’s labs, partnering with academic and industry scientists to conduct drug discovery and development.”



“These cut-backs will have an impact on MS. One of the great unmet needs in MS is better symptomatic treatments to treat spasticity, cognitive impairment, fatigue, pain, depression, bladder & bowel problems, sexual dysfunction, walking difficulties, incoordination, tremor, jumpy vision, seizures, flexor spasms, etc.”

“Big Pharma pulling out of neuroscience or downsizing will affect all these areas. We need to lobby industry to reverse this trend. I always maintain that the market for symptomatic MS therapies is as large if not bigger than the DMT market. The reason for this is that symptomatic therapies that work in MS are likely to work in other neurological disorders.”

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.

19 comments

  • This could be a good thing. Sometimes when someone who's bad at something gets out of the way it makes room for more talented people to enter and make real progress. Especially when the someone leaving is an 800 pound gorilla.

    Maybe we shouldn't ask them to reverse their decision; we should encourage others to enter the market and do it better.

  • Ha!
    "We need to lobby industry to reverse this trend"

    Surely a joke….I hope all readers read it as such as I would hate to see more tents on the doors of the private sector.

    Pharma is a profitability driven industry. point.

    We are better off lobbying academics to collaborate more and use public funds adequately instead of hunting the nobel prize.

  • To the previous commentor: no govt will spare enough public funds

    To Matt: there has never been any barrier to smaller setups. There have been good ideas from outside big pharma, but everybody has needed big pharma's help to get them to market

  • There is nothing to support the idea that MS symptoms can be pharmaceutically treated. This is dogma, since no one yet knows the cause and mechanisms of MS.

    So, let them leave. Fewer future deaths on rubbish drugs.

  • Re – "So, let them leave. Fewer future deaths on rubbish drugs."

    Wow, Vasilis Vasilopoulos, that's the smartest thing you've ever said on this blog.

  • Re: "There is nothing to support the idea that MS symptoms can be pharmaceutically treated. This is dogma, since no one yet knows the cause and mechanisms of MS."

    Not true; I started Fampyra 6 weeks ago and the result has been amazing. I can now walk twice as fast and almost five times as long as before starting the drug.

  • Re: "Fampyra or Fampridine" and "There is nothing to support the idea that MS symptoms can be pharmaceutically treated."

    There is a very good scientific rationale for why fampridine works in MS and the trial results are robust and clear. The bad news is that only some people with walking difficulties respond to the drug; i.e. ~30-40% are responders.

  • The impression I get from these 2 articles is that this will mainly affect research into mental health drugs. And it's a change in course rather than a withdrawal, as their old approaches haven't worked very well.

  • "There is nothing to support the idea that MS symptoms can be pharmaceutically treated".

    One of the most "left-field" commnets yet……..I believe any reader of the literature would
    beg to disagree and dare say that some of you get some benefit from the drugs they are taking.

    Many people take Asperin, but do we know how this really works in its entirity?

    *@#& need I say more

  • Re "*@#& need I say more"

    Please explain the exact cause of MS fatigue, depression, bladder & bowel problems. Please state effective (not licensed) drugs for fatigue, depression, bladder & bowel problems.

    Sorry, "see some benefit" is not enough to use the verb "treat". Where is the placebo notion you so eagerly account for in other circumstances?

  • I believe you can read….so read and get enlightened. There are many answers out there.

    However prod , parry, drop (= prod for differnt direction) has been a experimental design that does not work to get the correct/any response.

  • I've said this earlier VV: please start your own blog and spread your knowledge from there (since you know so much more than the professors). You aren't changing many minds here.

  • Roshni, i already have. Yet, my personal experience and the feedback from other patients allows me no rest. A life won back is something you want to share. I have no ambition, i am no doctor. But, i can not stay speechless when i see this distorted MS universe be reproduced despite its proven failure.

  • "Vasilis Vasilopoulos, you are a legend my son."

    Oh indeed, I'm sure we all feel privileged to receive his pearls of wisdom, and then we get back to the real world.

  • "Vasilis Vasilopoulos, you are a legend my son."

    LMAO! Only in his own mind.

    " A life won back is something you want to share."

    You've "shared" multiple times and nobody's interested. What more do you want from us??? As you have stated, you're no doctor. Those who'd rather get their medical information from some random person's blog are more than free to follow your blog. I would rather get it from medical professionals, hence why I follow Prof G and his team's blog (as well as other scientific blogs).

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