New Report Shows Record Number of Medicines in Development to Treat Diseases Affecting Women

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 General News
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COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y., Oct. 19 America's pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies are working on nearly 1,000 life-changing medicines for diseases affecting women, according to a new report released by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). The medicines are awaiting approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or are in human clinical trials.

In the U.S., diseases that disproportionately affect women include diabetes, which has reached epidemic proportions and affects 11 million women nationwide. Autoimmune diseases strike women three times more than men, and anxiety and depression strike women two times more than men. The number one killer of American women is heart disease.

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in American women. To help raise awareness about this disease, Medicines in Development Women 2009 is being released during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The report lists 969 new medicines in development. They include 112 new treatments for breast cancer, 86 new treatments for obstetric/gynecologic conditions, 76 for asthma, 114 for autoimmune diseases, 155 for diabetes, 131 for arthritis, and 80 for Alzheimer's disease.

One medicine in the report is a potential cutting-edge treatment that attacks the cause of Alzheimer's disease rather than merely treating its symptoms. Currently, treatment options for Alzheimer's disease are limited. This groundbreaking medicine holds the potential to slow the progression of the disease and could vastly improve quality of life for Alzheimer's patients. Women account for 70 percent of Alzheimer's deaths.

During the press briefing, Academy Award- and Tony-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden and American pop icon Deborah Gibson described the personal experiences that led them to advocate for women's health issues.

Harden was inspired to become an advocate while preparing for the role of a woman with breast cancer in the film Rails and Ties. "My character had Stage Four breast cancer and a mastectomy, so as part of researching my role we brought a group of breast cancer survivors to the set," explained Harden. "Meeting these women was transformative for me and helped me realize what a problem breast cancer is. I welcome the chance to raise awareness about it."

Gibson, who had a No. 1 hit song at 16 years of age, explained that it was the stressful experience of being a child celebrity that led to her battle with anxiety and depression. "You see a lot of professional children who grow up to have problems, because fame is not a natural thing we're wired to know as kids how to handle," said Gibson. "Once I was able to acknowledge my anxiety and depression, I was able to get help through therapy and medication."

"America's pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies continue making exciting progress in the search for new cures and treatments for diseases of special concern to women," said PhRMA Senior Vice President Ken Johnson in his remarks at the press briefing at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, New York. "We live in an era of medical discovery in which we understand more and more about the unique biological and behavioral differences between men and women and their respective health care needs. This knowledge is inspiring a continuing medical revolution that is bringing new hope to women around the world in the form of promising new treatments and cures."

"We are pleased to participate in events that promote the development of new drugs that will save women's lives," said Geri Barish, president of 1 in 9: Long Island Breast Cancer Action Coalition. "With over 40,000 women still dying of breast cancer every year, it is these new drugs that hold the promise to help eradicate breast cancer or at least relegate it to a chronic condition. These new drugs promise us something we breast cancer survivors need -- hope."

New York Biotechnology Association executive director Nathan Tinker noted that incredible progress is being made by America's biotechnology and pharmaceutical research companies in developing new and more effective treatments for the wide range of diseases that affect women. "Cooperation between the country's educational facilities, research hospitals, laboratories, and innovative biopharmaceutical companies has proven critical to this success," said Tinker.

"While scientists are making exciting progress in the search for new cures and treatments, these efforts are wasted if the medicines we develop aren't accessible to patients who need them," said PhRMA's Johnson.

Help is available to patients in need through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA), a program sponsored by America's pharmaceutical research companies. To date, the PPA has helped nearly six million patients nationwide. Since its launch in April 2005, the PPA bus tour has visited all 50 states and more than 3,000 cities to educate people about patient assistance programs.

The "Help is Here Express" is staffed by trained specialists able to quickly help uninsured and financially struggling patients access information on more than 475 patient assistance programs, including nearly 200 programs offered by pharmaceutical companies. When the "Help is Here Express" moves on, patients can visit PPA's easy-to-use Web site ( or call the toll-free phone number (1-888-4PPA-NOW).

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country's leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $50.3 billion in 2008 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $65.2 billion in 2008.

PhRMA Internet Address:

For information on stories of hope and survival, visit:

For information on how innovative medicines save lives, visit:

For information on the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, visit:

For information on the danger of imported drugs, visit:

For more information on public health emergencies, visit

SOURCE Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

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