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08 May 18

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Innovation in schizophrenia therapeutics holds promise of a better quality of life for sufferers, says GBI Research

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that affects 1% of the global population. Commercial dopamine-receptor blockade is effective in treating the positive symptoms (auditory and visual hallucinations), but there are no commercial drugs available for the treatment of negative (loss or decreased ability to speak) and cognitive symptoms, according to business intelligence provider GBI Research.

The company’s latest report, Frontier Pharma: Schizophrenia, reveals that the discovery of antipsychotics revolutionized treatment, enabling many schizophrenia patients to gain control over their symptoms.

Farzana Khanom, analyst at GBI Research, comments: “The mainstay of treatment is centred on the second-generation antipsychotics developed in the mid-1990s, which are effective in treating the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, but have little or no effect on negative and cognitive symptoms. Negative and cognitive symptoms are just as debilitating as positive symptoms and can prevent individuals from functioning in society.”

The schizophrenia pipeline is relatively small with a total of 160 products in active development. Of the 160 products, 48 are first-in-class, meaning they act on molecular targets not yet present in any market in the pharmaceutical industry. Some of these products are under development for positive symptoms with fewer side effects and other products are under development for negative and cognitive symptoms and are to be used as adjunct therapies to the mainstay of treatment. 

Khanom continues: “Low level of R&D funding and investment is evident in the pipeline, most likely due to a poor understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the disease, which acts as a strong barrier to the development of effective pharmaceutical products.

“Reflecting the situation in the market, the overwhelming majority of these products are small molecules, with a small but notable portion of the pipeline consisting of other molecule types such as enzymes, monoclonal antibodies, recombinant proteins, stem cell therapies, synthetic peptides and vaccines – none of which are present in the schizophrenia market.”

There is a small degree of innovation in terms of molecule types in development for schizophrenia, but it is evident that the market will remain dominated by small molecules for the foreseeable future, almost certainly due to drug delivery issues associated with the blood–brain barrier.

Between 2006 and 2018, there have been 77 licensing deals involving products in development for schizophrenia. The total disclosed amount invested was $6.8 billion. In the same period, there have been 44 co-development deals involving programs for schizophrenia. The overall disclosed deal value amounted to $3.5 billion.

Khanom concludes: “Despite the small number of products and low level of innovation in the schizophrenia pipeline, there are still high-value deals taking place. This indicates that despite the high risk and low approval rates, neuro-pharmaceutical development continues to attract interest, as the rewards appear to be much higher.”

Information based on the GBI Research report: Frontier Pharma: Schizophrenia - Diverse First-in-Class Pipeline Shows Promise for Treatment of Negative and Cognitive Symptoms



*Frontier Pharma: Schizophrenia - Diverse First-in-Class Pipeline Shows Promise for Treatment of Negative and Cognitive Symptoms

- Comments provided by Farzana Khanom, analyst at GBI Research


GBI Research is a market-leading provider of business intelligence reports,offering actionable data and forecasts based on the insights of key industry leaders to ensure you stayup-to-date with the latest emerging trends in your markets.

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