Pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies in New Jersey, California, New York and North Carolina are responsible for 192 of the 313 medicines in development today to treat mental illnesses, a new survey shows.

The study “Medicines in Development for Mental Illnesses” compiled by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) shows 62 medicines in development in New Jersey, 57 in California, 43 in New York and 41 in North Carolina.

(The count state-by-state is 203, but there are only 192 actual medicines involved. In some cases, individual medicines are being developed jointly by two companies in different states).

The medicines, which are in human clinical testing or their applications are being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration, are for addiction, anxiety, dementia, depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders, developmental disorders and insomnia.

“The need for these treatments is abundantly clear,” said PhRMA Senior Vice President Jeffrey A. Bond. “Nearly 60 million American adults today suffer from some form of mental illness, ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to depression and from schizophrenia to addictive disorders, including dependence on alcohol and drugs. According to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, serious mental illnesses cost the United States more than $317 billion a year in lost wages, health care expenditures and disability benefits.”

In 2007, according to a study by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 12 million emergency room visits involved a mental health and/or substance abuse condition, accounting for 12.5 percent of all emergency room visits in the United States, or one out of every eight visits. About 4.8 million of the visits resulted in costly hospital admissions, a rate that is more than 2.5 times that for emergency room visits related to other medical conditions.

Globally, according to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people suffer from mental health disorders. Mental illness, including suicides, accounts for over 15 percent of the burden of disease in established market economies, which is more than the disease burden caused by all cancers.

Bond noted that, overall, 71 new medicines are being developed for depression, which affects nearly 21 million Americans, or 9.5 percent of the U.S. population, and about 121 million people worldwide. Thirty-eight medications are being developed for anxiety, which affects more than 40 million American adults ages 18 and older; 90 treatments are being worked on for dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease, which impacts more than five million Americans; and 54 drugs are being created for schizophrenia, an affliction of 2.4 million American adults.

The pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies in New Jersey, California, New York and North Carolina are developing 47 of the 71 medicines for depression, 29 of the 38 anti-anxiety drugs, 63 of the 90 dementia treatments and 36 of the 54 schizophrenia medications.

Mental Illness Drugs in Development by State

Addictive
Disorders

Anxiety

Dementias/

Alzheimer’s
Disease

DepressionSchizophrenia
California5923104
New Jersey96101416
New York322810
North Carolina3118156

In this year's state biotechnology strength survey announced July 26 by Business Facilities magazine, California ranked first, New Jersey sixth and North Carolina seventh.

“A report released in May shows the companies in New York State are also vitally important to the fight against disease,” said Bond. “The study reveals pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies in the Empire State are working on 722 new medicines and vaccines, including a number of cutting-edge biotechnology treatments. These medications account for about a fourth of all medicines being developed by America’s biopharmaceutical companies.”

Bond added that the companies in New Jersey, California, New York, North Carolina and other states “are engaged in a costly, time-consuming research and development process. It now costs an average of $1.3 billion and takes 10 to 15 years to develop a new drug.”

He stressed that the nation’s pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies are committed to not only innovation, but also to making sure uninsured and financially struggling patients obtain the medicines they need. The companies sponsor the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA), which is a single point of access to more than 475 programs that provide free or nearly free medicines to patients in need. Nearly 200 of the programs are offered to patients by the companies.

Uninsured Americans and those who cannot afford their medicines can call a toll-free number (1-888-477-2669) or access a Web site (www.pparx.org) to determine if they qualify for help and which programs can assist them. “They are asked for the names of their medicines and medical conditions and the amount of household income and how many people depend on that income to find out if they qualify,” Bond said. “It only takes about 15 minutes to find out. And so far, nearly seven million patients from all over the country have been matched with programs that can help them if the information they provided is accurate.”

The PPA system also has information on more than 10,000 free health care clinics all over the United States and over 40 of its assistance programs address the special health care needs of children.