Therapeutic Switching

Numedicus’ approach to new products is based on therapeutic switches, namely new uses for known drugs, and alternatively called ‘drug reprofiling’, ‘drug repositioning’ or ‘drug repurposing’.

Therapeutic switching is an area of huge potential, much still untapped, for identifying novel, patent protected medicines. Some examples are shown below.

Drug Old use New use
Thalidomide Insomnia Leprosy, Myeloma
Apomorphine Parkinsonism Erectile dysfunction
Doxycycline Bacterial infection Periodontitis
Bupropion Depression Smoking cessation
Ropinirole [Hypertension] Parkinson’s disease, restless leg syndrome
Cilomilast [Asthma] COPD

Many compounds currently in pharmaceutical pipelines may have important, unexplored alternative uses. Viagra™ was one that did find its right destiny, after initial trialling for angina. Once approved, nearly 90 percent of marketed drugs find important new clinical indications as marketed products. A recent example is Glivec™, which was initially introduced for chronic myeloid leukemia, but subsequently investigated for gartointestinal stomal tumours (GIST), for which is now approved.

Therapeutic switch projects are attractive because they can be commercialised more quickly, and with lower risk than medicines resulting from traditional approaches; they may also be underpinned by patents. Not only is there a greater chance of development succeeding but the R&D costs are a fraction of that incurred with a new chemical entity.

Why is this? Much of the expense in bringing new drugs to the market is tied up in risky discovery projects and in building data packages from routine studies like analytical chemistry and long term toxicology. Known drugs, either fully or partly developed, avoid the risks in drug discovery and have data packages that can be applied to new uses. Moreover, their toxicological risk of failure is reduced because much of the work has already been conducted and safety has been demonstrated in man.