NIH Gives Colleges Cash To Act More Like Drug Companies

  • by: |
  • 10/05/2006
Is it just me being cynical or is it my post--Yankee loss crankiness but isn't the NIH award of $500 million over 5 years to 12 universities to help them work together in order to come up with validated therapeutic targets and conduct outcomes studies based on mechanistic research generating more headlines than the news merits.

It's not just because the amount pales in signficance to what drug and biotech companies spend doing exactly what the NIH grant is, in part, supposed to do: pooling data, enrolling people in studies more quickly. (Where is the demand to have academics post their clinical trial data on a website for the world to see?)

Nor is it because the money seems to be going to fund exactly what the academic medical centers are already doing, except they will hold more conferences where people can squabble over control over data. For instance, according to the Sacramento Bee

"UC Davis plans to use the funds to expand clinical trials for people with cancer, infectious diseases, vascular diseases and neurological conditions including Alzheimer's disease and spinal cord damage, said Dr. Claire Pomeroy, vice chancellor and medical school dean.

Beyond clinical trials, it will also look for ways to ensure that the newest advances in treatment are spread throughout the community, so that underserved populations also can benefit"

Sounds great, but a business plan or opportunistic driven research agenda it ain't.

Perhaps it is because the phrase "translational medicine" has become the cool buzz word of those seeking additional NIH funding and twist it to mean anything and everything.

That fact is, we have a translational medicine problem in academia and it consists of NIH researchers and academics knowing next to nothing about drug development or the quality of data it takes or the medicine chemistry required to actually get a drug ready for human trials. Academia and NIH are awash in novel targets -- as are drug companie -- but in academia everyone thinks their compound is going to be grand slam when in fact they strike out more often than not.

And for VC and biotech firms, the reluctance to fund academic research is not just the prima donna behavior on the part of potential partners, it is the fact that most compounds or potential products are not far enough along the development continuum to know if they will work or not...The real translational work in an era of targeted medicine will take place in a new drug development paradigm where academia and companies work more closely -- in cooperation with the FDA -- to revamp the drug approval path consistent with what is known about medicine from the mounds of prior clinical experience and biomarker validation.

The fact is, the real barriers to translational medicine are the product of failing to apply cutting edge science to today's drug development regulations. So for David Kessler -- the former FDA commish who is now dean of the UC medical school to say that there are"not enough people who are pursuing research that connects the dots between what is done in our basic science labs and what can directly benefit patients." is galling. It was he who made it harder to bring medicines by opposing the introduction of science based changes to FDA processes permitting accelerated approval. There are plenty of people...but not enough dots. That's a political problem perpetuated by people like Kessler, Grassley, Waxman, etc.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

Blog Roll

Alliance for Patient Access Alternative Health Practice
Better Health
Biotech Blog
CA Medicine man
Cafe Pharma
Campaign for Modern Medicines
Carlat Psychiatry Blog
Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry: A Closer Look
Conservative's Forum
Club For Growth
Diabetes Mine
Disruptive Women
Doctors For Patient Care
Dr. Gov
Drug Channels
DTC Perspectives
Envisioning 2.0
FDA Law Blog
Fierce Pharma
Fresh Air Fund
Furious Seasons
Gel Health News
Hands Off My Health
Health Business Blog
Health Care BS
Health Care for All
Healthy Skepticism
Hooked: Ethics, Medicine, and Pharma
Hugh Hewitt
In the Pipeline
In Vivo
Internet Drug News
Jaz'd Healthcare
Jaz'd Pharmaceutical Industry
Jim Edwards' NRx
Kaus Files
Laffer Health Care Report
Little Green Footballs
Med Buzz
Media Research Center
More than Medicine
National Review
Neuroethics & Law
Nurses For Reform
Nurses For Reform Blog
Opinion Journal
Orange Book
Peter Rost
Pharm Aid
Pharma Blog Review
Pharma Blogsphere
Pharma Marketing Blog
Pharmacology Corner
Pharmaceutical Business Review
Piper Report
Prescription for a Cure
Public Plan Facts
Real Clear Politics
Shark Report
Shearlings Got Plowed
Taking Back America
Terra Sigillata
The Cycle
The Catalyst
The Lonely Conservative
Town Hall
Washington Monthly
World of DTC Marketing
WSJ Health Blog