PROBLEM-SOLVING APPLICATION CASE (PSAC)
Group Forms to Amp Up Research
Major drug companies and nonprofit research groups would never put aside fierce competition and conflicting agendas just to crack some of the world’s most challenging diseases, would they? Except they did. In early 2014, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the creation of the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) to target some of the most challenging diseases. And to accelerate potential cures, they all agreed to share “scientists, tissue and blood samples, and data, in a five-year collaborative effort.”91 Competition through Cooperation This deal, put together by the NIH, creates wins for all participants. “By pooling their brightest minds and best lab discoveries,” The Wall Street Journal reports, “they hope to put together a research system that can decipher the diseases in ways each hasn’t been able to on its own.”92 The Journal notes that the costs to the participants are much lower than they would be when working on their own. In fact, the total budget for the partnership is $213 million, split roughly between the NIH at $118.9 million and industry at $110.6 million. These amounts are dramatically lower than the $350 million average cost for the discovery and development of a single drug. Beyond reducing the financial costs, this collaboration also spreads the risk, as 95% of experimental medicines fail to be both effective and safe.93 Not Just Cost Savings The NIH identifies benefits beyond cutting research costs: shorter development time, improved prospects for success, and increased range of therapies. “Understanding the biological pathways underlying disease and the specific biological targets that can alter disease will lead to more rational drug design and better tailored therapies,”94 the NIH says. The agency predicts that the projects will enable more robust clinical trials and reduce the number of failures in Phase II and Phase III clinical trials. Early Stage and Open Source One reason why the coalition works is because the competitors are collaborating on the earliest stage of the research. The NIH says that the project shouldn’t face antitrust concerns because it consists of early research and will make all results freely available to the public. Three Projects Scientists from the NIH and its industry partners selected three focal diseases:
• Alzheimer’s disease.
• Type 2 diabetes.
• The auto-immune diseases of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Egos at the Door? The project is unique. “We are getting together in a way that has not happened before,” Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told The New York Times. “We are bringing scientists from different perspectives into the same room. They will leave their egos at the door, leave their affiliations at the door.”95 The Times reports that such a collaboration would have been impossible five years ago, quoting Dr. Mikael , president of worldwide research and development at Pfizer. “It was a different time,” Dr. said. “Companies had the view that going alone would be sufficient.”96 Who’s Who Industry participants include household names. The ten commercial partners are AbbVie, Biogen Idec, BristolMyers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Merck, Pfizer, , and Takeda. Nonprofit partners are the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Diabetes Association, the Arthritis Foundation, the Lupus Foundation of America, the Lupus Research Institute/Alliance for Lupus Research, the Foundation for the NIH, the Geoffrey Foundation, , the Rheumatology Research Foundation, and USAgainstAlzheimer’s.97 Apply the 3-Stop Problem-
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