The modern world has people driven by ambition and a drive to succeed. The quality of life continues to go up while life expectancy is deteriorating. On average, life expectancy for the U.S. is about 78.5 years.
On one hand, more and more health ailments seem to affect the human population on a global level, while on the other hand, the medical and pharmaceutical industries seem to invent newer drugs for the existing, as well as new diseases and their symptoms.
Technology and companies that help with the health economic outcome research are also making the availability of drugs cost-efficient, be it the existing drugs, or the ones that are newly invented.
Discovery of New Drugs
In the early days, drug discovery was either a simple observation of the active molecular ingredients that were present in traditional medicines or it was just a matter of chance. The discovery of penicillin is a very famous serendipitous encounter.
These days, modern methods in biochemistry and different techniques are being used to discover and manufacture new drugs. The two most frequently used methods to discover new drugs are phenotypic discovery and target-based discovery of drugs.
Phenotypic screening for drug discovery: In this method, a drug is first identified without any prior knowledge about the target tissues.
Target-based drug discovery: In this method, the target tissue is first identified well. After that, the effect of new drugs on the target molecules is observed and studied.
Also known as drug repositioning, this method is used to study and observe the new effects of existing drugs for symptoms and diseases that it was initially not invented for; i.e. new therapeutics.
This method has proved to be extremely beneficial to find medicinal solutions to new, rare, and neglected diseases and symptoms that do not have a specific drug invented for them to benefit from.
In simple words, it means finding new uses from the drugs that are already being used for treating an existing health condition.
Some known examples of success when it comes to drug repositioning is the drug Astemizole, which was initially manufactured to treat symptoms of allergies, nasal congestion, etc. and now, it is also being used to treat malaria.
Another example is the drug Ivermectin, originally designed to treat symptoms of river blindness and elephantiasis, which is now being used to treat the symptoms of Tuberculosis also.
Advantages of Using the Method of Drug Repositioning
There are many known benefits of using this method of research for finding new medicinal treatments.
- Since the drug that is being researched has already been in use and available to the people for some other medical ailment, it reduces the clinical trial steps to be taken before the drug is available to be used by the consumers directly from the market.
- A new drug requires at least about ten years and 2.6 billion U.S dollars for it to come to the market for consumption, from the laboratory. Drug repurposing method effectively decreases the manufacturing cost and the time that is needed for it to be available in the market since it has to go through a relatively small trial procedure as compared to a new drug.
- There is no need to develop new strategies or find supply partners to circulate the drug in the market. It can easily be supplied by the existing pharmaceutical partners and chains.
Drug Repurposing for Rare Indications
This method is extremely beneficial for finding treatments to a rare disease or its symptoms. Since it is a rare condition, finding a new drug is not economically very beneficial pertaining to a small number of patients that are affected by the same.
However, using research to discover the uses of existing drugs can be effective and useful for the patients.
FDA and EMA generally provide incentives for people and companies to use this method for rediscovering new uses of existing drugs, however, complete reimbursement is not guaranteed, even if the research is successful.
It is highly necessary that pharmaceutical companies plan well in order to gain monetary benefits if their research is successful.
Finding medicinal solutions to the existing as well as the new diseases has become increasingly important to aid the life of the people around the globe, as diseases are one of the biggest causes of deaths all around the world.
Thankfully, nowadays we have technology and various companies that use technology that provides services like health economic outcome research, computational methods, use of data and artificial intelligence, etc. to make drug discovery and its availability easier and more efficient.