New formulary ‘bank’ to aid research into combination therapies

pharmafile | January 11, 2017 | News story | Medical Communications, Research and Development 21st Century Cures Act, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Joe Biden, Obama, bristol myers-squibb, combination therapy 

As part of the wider ‘cancer moonshot’ initiative, confirmed by the signing of the 21st Century Cures Act by Obama, an agreement has been reached between National Cancer Institute and six drug companies. The agreement sees the setting up of a new drug formulary, named the NCI Formulary, to act as an intermediary between researchers and the drug companies. The NCI Formulary will hold fifteen targeted agents that it will be able to make available to researchers.

The NCI Formulary’s premise is that it can often take a long time for permissions to be negotiated between researchers developing new combination therapies; it is a process that can take years and therefore extends the length of time required to develop a successful therapy. Part of the aim of the moonshot is to speed up the process of developing new therapies and increase collaboration between companies in order to develop them.

“The NCI Formulary will help researchers begin testing promising drug combinations more quickly, potentially helping patients much sooner,” explained NCI acting director Douglas Lowy. “Rather than spending time negotiating agreements, investigators will be able to focus on the important research that can ultimately lead to improved cancer care.”

The companies that have so far become involved in the process are Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Genentech, Kyowa Kirin Pharmaceutical Development Company, Loxo Oncology and Xcovery. The aim is clearly to have as many companies involved in the process as possible, each contributing certain agents that can then be explored for potential new treatments.

The crux of whether more companies will take advantage will depend on whether successes are achieved through the process. Companies will be wary of offering their own agents if there is little perceived benefit to be attained through the process. The NCI has commented that they are still negotiating with a number of other companies to begun adding more therapies to the formulary.

 Ben Hargreaves

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