|Solvay Pharmaceuticals’ approach|
Pharmaceutical R&D is a complex long-term, challenging process. The risk of failure is present every step of the way. Under the most favourable conditions a total time path of nine years could be feasible, but often this is much more. The industry average is 12-14 years at the moment in the indications Solvay Pharmaceuticals works in. Only 1 in 12 drugs that make it past the research stage into clinical development, actually make it to the market.
The most recent estimate by industry specialists like the independent Medicines Research Centre in the UK shows that the pre-tax cost of developing a drug is 600 million euro or more. And this is not taking into account the enormous costs of manufacturing, supplying and marketing each new therapy. Innovative pharmaceutical reseach is a high-risk process, and companies must generate the income to invest in continuous R&D from only a limited number of highly successful products.
Solvay Pharmaceuticals’ approach
Solvay Pharmaceuticals wants to develop meaningful new treatments for patients who have a need for better therapies to improve their quality of life. In 1999 17% of Solvay Pharmaceuticals net sales were re-invested in R&D. Of that total, one-third was spent on drug discovery and preclinical compounds. Solvay Pharmaceuticals focuses on four carefully selected therapeutic areas: mental health (35%), cardiology (27%), gastroenterology (22%) and hormone replacement (16%).
Solvay Pharmaceuticals invests in expertise: 1,100 highly skilled people work in Solvay Pharmaceuticals R&D. Specialized R&D sites can be found in Germany, The Netherlands, US and Japan
Pharmaceutical research has changed drastically in the last decade. Solvay Pharmaceuticals agressively adopts new technologies that help bring better drugs to the patient faster. In its endeavor to find tomorrow’s cures, Solvay integrates conventional drug discovery methods with the most modern state-of-the-art techniques. In drug discovery two major approaches are synergistically employed:
* Structure Based Drug Design, the creation of new drug candidates with modern computer aided drug design systems, based on information about the biological target
* Combinatorial Chemistry, enabling the construction of many desired combinations of molecules – pure compounds, offering the advantage of easier and quicker synthesis and testing processes.
Solvay Pharmaceuticals’ new drug designs are based on advanced knowledge of disease mechanisms and molecular biology, biochemistry and physiology, and affect cell processes that cause the disease. Solvay’s expertise in target finding is further boosted by gene discovery techniques.
High capacity screening systems enable the screening of large numbers of compounds on many more biological targets than previously, in months instead of years.
At Solvay Pharmaceuticals innovation is strengthened by integrating in-house expertise with the best available enabling technologies and outside know-how through alliances with biotech corporations and academia, allowing accelaration of the discovery process for better and more innovative drugs. [collaborations]
The approach in Solvay Pharmaceuticals research programmes is highly targeted: * Target finding by analysis of disease causes and symptoms in:
* Human studies by, e.g.:Identification of abnormal CNS regions, sampling of diseased brain areas and Identifying targets
* Animal studies, by e.g.: Mimicking symptoms by manipulating brain areas and finding counteracting mechanisms
* Target evaluation (function analysis), e.g. by the study of receptor activation or blockade in in vitro and in vivo pharmacological models.
* Drug discovery on chosen targets, starting by lead finding using:
* High throughput screening (HTS), followed by
* Lead optimization (using Computer-Aided Drug Discovery techniques), and
* Pre-clinical drug safety evaluation
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