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

Posted Oct 22 2009 10:05pm
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Reuters

COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y -- 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 and anxiety and
depression two times more women 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.


According to the New York State Department of Health, breast cancer is the
second-leading cause of cancer-related death among women in New York State.
Last year, about 14,000 women in New York State were newly diagnosed with
breast cancer, and more than 2,900 women died from the disease. New York women
also have a higher incidence rate of cervical cancer than that of the national
average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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 of Alzheimer's patients.
Women account for 70 percent of Alzheimer's deaths.


"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."


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 what it [anxiety
and depression] was, I was able to get help through therapy and medication."


"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,
including more than 193,000 people in New York. 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 (www.pparx.org) 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.
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