The CNS drug development drum beat is getting louder

[image courtesy of Pixabay]

The late 1980s and the 1990s were something of a gold rush for pharmaceutical companies focused on CNS drug development — especially those developing psychiatric drugs. In 1988, Eli Lilly introduced the blockbuster SSRI Prozac (fluoxetine), then a new type of antidepressant. Big Pharma companies launched several SSRIs in the years that followed. 

By the end of the 2000s, the rate of development of antidepressants and psychiatric medicines, more broadly, had crawled to a near standstill as Big Pharma companies slashed R&D budgets for CNS drugs and chose to exit the mental health space. “They were facing patent cliffs and had to make some critical decisions,” said Emer Leahy, said CEO of PsychoGenics. 

The tide is now turning. A growing number of well-funded smaller companies with venture backing are emerging in a quest to develop novel psychiatric drugs. “T…

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