CNS Drug Development: Lessons Learned Part 3

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This column reviews the divergence between the approach to drug development in infectious disease, oncology, and immunology versus psychiatry. Between 2009 and 2016, 254 new drugs were approved. Of those, only 9 were for a psychiatric indication; another 5 were labeled to treat central nervous system disorders that are not considered psychiatric per se but are frequently found in individuals with psychiatric illnesses (eg, substantial weight gain). There were 2 additional new products for psychiatric indications that involved either a combination product (Contrave) or a prodrug for the production of aripiprazole (Aristada). The column discusses the reasons behind these different rates of development of psychiatric and/or central nervous system drugs compared with drugs in the areas of infectious disease, oncology, and immunology, and it predicts that this situation will change over the next century as we develop an improved understanding of the neurobiology underlying specific psychiatric illnesses.

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