Tackling the opioid crisis — Pharma companies agree to work together on new meds
The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis met with leaders of the pharmaceutical industry in Trenton on Monday to discuss ways to address America’s epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction.
Gov. Christie, who chairs the Commission, said those in attendance agreed to be part of a partnership with the National Institutes of Health to help develop non-opioid pain medication, and "to put that on the fast track in partnership with NIH."
They also agreed to help develop medication-assisted treatment for those already suffering from addiction.
Steve Ubl, the president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said moving forward the focus will be “how can we streamline and bring to patients more quickly non-opioid alternatives? Our companies have over 40 compounds under development.”
He said right now there are “silos and barriers to information-sharing — clinical trial design issues that can be modified to make sure those products make their way to patients more expeditiously."
Christie said the 17 pharmaceutical company leaders that participated in the meeting “said that they are willing to share information that they previously said they had not shared with each other before about these 40 compounds that are under study in the pipeline right now.”
He said the companies agreed to work with the National Institutes of Health as a “fair broker clearing house” for that information, to determine which compounds being developed work best, and what has the most potential.
When Christie was asked how long this will take, he said he couldn't give a timeframe.
"If I did I’d be tempted to buy the stock of the company that I thought was the best one," Christie said.
He added with all of these companies working together to create new, non-addictive pain medications “the solution to this problem is going to come much faster after today, than it would have if we didn’t have today, and so we’re hopeful.”
CDC statistics indicate there were 64,000 drug related deaths last year in America. Christie said “that means we have a 9/11 loss of life every three weeks.”
“It’s unacceptable and that’s why it’s a national emergency, and that’s why the president agrees it’s a national emergency," Christie said.
He said “this problem will not be addressed sufficiently in our country if we don’t have the active involvement and partnership with the pharmaceutical companies.”
“Without their help and their participation it will be near impossible to accomplish what we need to accomplish in terms of dealing with the opioid crisis and the overdose crisis in our country," Christie said.
During a briefing with reporters, Christie said while efforts will be made to fast-track development of new non-opioid drugs the National Institutes of Health will make sure safety is not compromised.
“The NIH is going to work with the FDA to make sure we do this in a way that is both efficient and effective, and that may mean some changes to some of the protocols,” he said.
Ubl said those in the pharmaceutical industry "want to bring together the best and brightest in the industry like we do across many public health challenges to address this particular challenge.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.
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