New Drugs approved in 2012

By Michael Edmonds 17/02/2013

According to a recent article in Chemical & Engineering News written by Lisa Jarvis, 2012 was a bountiful year for the pharmaceutical industry, with 39 new products approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These include new drug therapies for drug resistant tuberculosis, cystic fibrosis and various forms of cancer. Apart from the benefits to patients that these drugs will provide, one of the most exciting things about these new drugs is that 18 of them work using new mechanisms of action. This may mean that for each new mechanism of action, other drugs may also may be developed. New mechanisms also contribute to a better understanding of the whole field of pharmaceutical science.

The majority of these new drugs are small molecule drugs, as opposed to larger protein/antibody based drugs. And at least 8 of these new drugs are for the treatment of so called orphan diseases (rare diseases that only occur in a small proportion of the population and which historically have been ignored by many pharmaceutical companies as uneconomical).

Some of the new drugs are as follows:

Drug  (company) For Treatment of:
Picato (Leo Pharma) (premaligant) Actinic keratosis
Sirturo (Johnson & Johnson) Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis
Zioptan (Merck & Co) Open-angle glaucoma/ocular hypertension
Stribild (Gilead Sciences) HIV  (a HAART drug combination)
Aubagio (Santofi) Multiple sclerosis
Xeljanz (Pfizer) Rheumatoid arthritis
Signifor (Novartis) Cushing’s disease
Gattex (NPS Pharmaceuticals) Short bowel syndrome
Perjeta (Genentech) HER-2 positive breast cancer
Stivaga (Bayer) Colorectal cancer
Iclusig (Ariad Pharmaceuticals) Chronic myeloid leukemia
Bosulif (Pfizer) Chronic myelogenous leukemia
Cometriq (Exelixis) Medullary thyroid cancer
Inlyta (Pfizer) Advanced kidney cancer


Also included amongst these new drugs are several new drugs to treat erectile dysfunction, one to assist with obesity and one for the treatment of anthrax.

Of course one of the challenges with new drugs is the cost. At the high end of the scale drugs like Gattex are costed at $295,000 (US) per year. Such drugs will no doubt prove a challenge for funding agencies such as New Zealand’s own Pharmac. This is the unfortunate result of the billions of dollars which it costs to discover, develop and manufacture drugs (although many observers argue that this cost would come down if drug companies spent more on research and less on marketing).


0 Responses to “New Drugs approved in 2012”

  • Looking through the 39 drugs, I see only three to five that I would possibly be prescribing at some stage in the future. I suspect that future may be several years ahead!

    These costs seem astronomical to me and I agree with you that Pharmac will have problems with maintaining low cost for the newer medicines, especially when we consider recent episodes of consumer and political pressure placed on Pharmac.

    The average cost of precriptions in NZ is not high ( I suspect that my own average prescription cost is higher than the NZ average since it includes oncology drugs, antibodies and blood products, all high cost items. Against that, the most common item on my own prescriptions appears to be paracetamol!

    I suspect that for many doctors in NZ, the most common prescription items would be analgesics, hypotensives and simple antibiotics. Many of these would cost the country well under $20 for each prescription because of Pharmac purchasing generics which have been off patent for many years.

    I’ve been trying to find a listing of the most common medicines prescribed in NZ, but ended up without being able to find one. I would be really interested if someone could find out the numbers (and hence costs) of the most common prescriptions written in NZ.

  • Possum, many thanks. I don’t know how I missed it!

    Interesting to compare with my own practice – I would say that most of the most commonly prescribed are commonly prescribed by myself. The exceptions are diclofenac, zopiclone and cholecalciferol. (Probably says a fair bit about my practice).

    Atorvastatin costs should be a lot less this year since there’s now a generic available at lower cost.