Breathing New Life into Existing Drugs
Inhaled administration has the potential to bring benefits to patients – and commercial success to businesses – across a number of therapeutic spaces. But how do you identify the best opportunities for drug repurposing or repositioning?
Geraldine Venthoye | | Longer Read
Finding new uses for old drugs is now a significant trend in the pharma industry. There can be some inconsistency about terminology, but generally speaking, a repurposing project will take a drug already approved for one indication and seek approval for another or, alternatively, a new formulation may be created to allow administration via a different route for the same indication. A repositioning project, meanwhile, tends to take an existing drug and give it an improved or altered product profile, while keeping the same administration route. Either way, as well as providing advantages for patients, repurposing or repositioning can also be used to extend intellectual property (IP) coverage and drive additional revenue for innovators. Drug repositioning now accounts for almost a third of all new drug products, generating half a trillion dollars in annual sales across all dosage forms (1).
Inhaled administration offers significant repurposing opportunities; only a relatively small number of medicines made their first appearance on the market in inhaled form. A number of drugs that are today very familiar in inhalers started life in another delivery format, including beta-2 agonists, anticholinergics, and corticosteroids, as well as antibiotics, such as tobramycin and aztreonam. Though most are locally effective products – notably those designed to treat respiratory disease – some are systemically targeted, such as drugs to treat diabetes, migraine, or Parkinson’s disease.
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