As noted by Vaughan Bell over at the blog Mind Hacks, Science magazine correspondent Greg Miller has just published a piece entitled “Is Pharma Running Out of Brainy Ideas?” Miller notes that GlaxoSmithKline has announced it is getting out of drug development in some areas of neuroscience, including pain and depression. At the same time, AstraZeneca has announced it is closing facilities in the U.S. and Europe and ending its drug-discovery research on schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. According to Miller,
These cutbacks by two of the top players in drug development for disorders of the central nervous system have raised concerns that the pharmaceutical industry is pulling out, or at least pulling back, in this area. In direct response to the cuts at GSK and AstraZeneca, the Institute of Medicine Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders organized a meeting in late June that brought together leaders from government, academia, and private foundations to take stock. But the biggest problem, researchers say, is that there is almost nothing in the pipeline that gives any hope for a transformation in the treatment of mental illness. That’s worrying, they say, because the need for better treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders is vast. Hundreds of millions of people are afflicted worldwide. Yet for some common disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease, no truly effective treatments exist; for others, like depression, the existing drugs have limited efficacy and substantial side effects.
Miller also discusses the topic in the magazine’s podcast here.