Drug Efficacy: Trial by Error

Drug efficacy rate in per cent

Alzheimer’s: 30
Analgesics (Cox-2): 80
Asthma: 60
Cardiac Arrythmias: 60
Depression (SSRI): 62
Diabetes: 57
Hepatits C (HCV): 47
Incontinence: 40
Migraine (acute): 52
Migraine (prophylaxis): 50
Oncology: 25
Rheumatoid arthritis: 50
Schizophrenia: 60

Dr. Allen Roses, worldwide vice-president of genetics at GlaxoSmithKline, recently commented about the dreadful state of affairs for patients taking prescription medications.  Namely, drugs are frequently ineffective for huge swaths of the population.  "The vast majority of drugs - more than 90 per cent - only work in 30 or 50 per cent of the people," Dr Roses said. "I wouldn’t say that most drugs don’t work. I would say that most drugs work in 30 to 50 per cent of people. Drugs out there on the market work, but they don’t work in everybody."  He went on to say that "pharmacogenetics has the promise of removing much of the uncertainty."

As noted by Brooke at COSMAS, this is hardly a "shocking revelation."  Roses statements are not confessions as the Independent would have it seem:

Anonymous. Multinational drug company: honest, decent, public-spirited? The Independent (UK), December 8, 2003. (Subscribers only, but see here)

Steve Connor, Glaxo chief: Our drugs do not work on most patients, The Independent (UK), December 8, 2003.

While a geneticist at Duke, Dr. Allen Roses played a critical role in the identification of Apolipoprotein E as an Alzheimer’s susceptibility gene.  He has written many papers related to the post-genomic era, many of which can be found online for free (scroll to bottom).

UPDATE: Also see Derek Lowe’s The British Press vs. GSK



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