We usually see pharmaceutical companies as huge corporations who have to abide the Wall Street rules of big profits. Much of the new innovative medication is however developed by small medical "designer" labs with great innovative ideas. Developing a drug for a well-known disease that benefits tens - or hundreds of millions people means easy access to funding and low risk developing the new medication because there's already so much information available. The contrary applies to pulmonary fibrosis. There's not a very large number of IPF patients (the market - although it's growing) and the history shows that it's a difficult disease to crack. There seems to be new interest because the designer drug labs and big pharmaceutical companies are "running out of diseases". That means they have to tackle those higher R&D costs to come up with THE medication in order to be able to corner the IPF market. Higher risks, higher investments but huge profit potential is the new mantra.
Just to give you an idea: Intermune, developer of Pirfenidone, got a positive advice from the FDA Advisory Committee (March 2010) and it's stock price skyrocketed from $15 to almost $50 in just a few days. When the FDA demanded additional data it returned to $9 but when the European counterpart of the FDA Advisory Committee gave a positive advice Intermune shares soared again to $40. When in the end the FDA approved Pirfenidone (Esbriet) Genentech (Part of Roche) bought Intermune for $79 per share. That's what the pharmaceutical companies are looking for and they all want to be the first or the best.
The first clinical trial for a pulmonary fibrosis drug was in 1999 and now there are more than 105 clinical trails - many of them are drugs. You can find those at https://clinicaltrials.gov/
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Mary Anne Radmacher