(Corrects in 11th paragraph to make clear Risperdal is made by
Johnson & Johnson, not Eli Lilly)
* Nine drugs firms to share data on psychiatric drugs
* Collaboration hopes to end drought of new medications
By Kate Kelland
LONDON, Nov 10 Nine major pharmaceutical
companies have agreed to pool data on drug trials with academic
institutions in an effort to improve ways of developing of new
medicines to treat psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.
The collaboration, which involves Pfizer (PFE.N),
AstraZeneca (AZN.L), Eli Lilly (LLY.N) and Roche ROG.VX among
others, will bring together data on 67 trials on 11 licensed
drugs and will make up the largest database of clinical trial
data in psychiatric research, according to the project's
"We have learnt a lot of brain science in the last 30 years
... and the expectation is that this knowledge would
automatically and quickly translate into new medications," said
Shitij Kapur of the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College
London, a leaders of the project called Novel Methods leading to
New Medications in Depression and Schizophrenia, or NEWMEDS.
"But that is where the track record has been a little
Kapur said the aim of NEWMEDS was for scientific researchers
and drug companies to learn from past experience and devise ways
to speed up and simplify the process of getting a potential drug
candidate through clinical trials and onto the market.
"Hopefully, this will be one step that will help reverse the
drought of new medications in psychiatry," he said.
One barrier to development has been competition between
rival companies, he said, while another has been the limited
exchange of science across the industry-academic divide.
In a statement NEWMEDS pointed to three bottlenecks in drug
discovery for psychiatric disorders, including a lack of
accurate animal models for experimentation, a lack of tools and
tests in healthy volunteers to give early indications of whether
drugs might work, and reliance on clinical trial methodology
that has remained virtually unchanged for 50 years.
The other drugmakers involved are Johnson & Johnson's
(JNJ.N) unit Janssen Pharmaceutica, Lundbeck (LUN.CO), Novartis
NOVN.VX, Orion (ORNBV.HE) and privately-owned Servier.
The firms involved will not disclose information about
experimental drugs they are developing but will share data on
drugs that have already won approval to be marketed.
Johnson & Johnson, for example, will share data from trials
of its schizophrenia drug Risperdal, or risperidone, while
AstraZeneca will open up its archives on Seroquel, or
"For 50 years we have been doing trials the same way -- with
a standard placebo or active control, for four to six weeks and
using the same statistical approaches," said Jonathan Rabinowitz
of Bar Ilan University in Israel, who will lead analysis of the
schizophrenia data for the NEWMEDS project.
"By bringing together this large dataset ... we will be able
to identify if trials could be smaller, faster and can decrease
exposure of patients to experimental medications."
Academic institutions involved include Sweden's Karolinska
Institute, Britain's Cambridge and Manchester universities, the
Spanish National Research Council and Germany's Central
Institute of Mental Health.
(Editing by David Holmes)