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Five-year, $230-million effort targets diseases through public-private partnership
Another public-private partnership bringing multiple biopharma companies together in a pre-competitive research collaboration is in the offing: the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP; not to be confused with “Average Manufacturers’ Price” being hashed out over at CMS). After a couple years of meetings, and with the strategic involvement of Boston Consulting Group, the several companies, foundations and government agencies (NIH and FDA) have come together to target four disease states: Alzheimer’s, Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and system lupus erythematosus (lupus). Industry participants are AbbVie, Biogen Idec, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi and Takeda. PhRMA is also a participant. The Wall Street J. reported that Roche Group considered joining but dropped out when the disease of most interest to it—schizophrenia—was dropped from the list; other pharma companies are supportive of the effort but are keeping their own projects separate. AMP will be administered by the Foundation for the NIH (FNIH).
As envisioned, companies will share data, researchers and funds, and results or findings will be shared universally (that is, not restricted to participants in AMP). In his NIH blog, Francis Collins, NIH director, emphasized the importance of biomarker research in the effort—finding specific genetic markers in individuals, or the compounds that result from such genetic variations, which then have a good chance of being appropriate targets for development. His example is PCSK9, a protein found at relatively low levels in individuals with a rare genetic variant. Those individuals in turn have very low cholesterol levels; thus, reducing that protein could be a treatment for high cholesterol sufferers. (PCSK9 is under development by a number of companies, and is not a target of AMP.)
AMP joins a growing number of other pre-competitive collaborations, such as the FNIH’s own Biomarkers Consortium, FDA’s private-public Sentinel Initiative, the private groups TransCelerate or Rx-360, among others. It’s interesting to speculate how these programs take for-profit enterprises, match them up with scientific or technological needs, and then focus on delivering meaningful results—a process that has traditionally involved academia, but which is missing in AMP and similar programs. At the same time, academia-based collaborations increasingly come under restrictions on data-sharing brought about either by the funding of researchers coming from private industry, or by the technology-licensing programs run by leading research universities. They’ll all meet each other, one supposes, at the Patent Office.