This week, Dr. Jeremy Levin, Chairman and CEO of Ovid Therapeutics and Chair of BIO’s Opioid Working Group joined WuXi AppTec Communications for a candid interview about public policy changes needed to battle the growing opioid epidemic and the importance of fostering scientific innovation to develop novel and safer therapies to treat pain and addiction in the future.
“I’m motivated by two specific things,” Levin says. “One, to help the patient, and number two, to bolster health care in our society because I think that makes us a better society.”
As Dr. Levin explains, however, getting the public and private sectors to invest in less-addictive alternatives has proven to be a challenge and an obstacle standing between patients and the treatments they need.
“The track record for developing new drugs in this area has been relatively poor. If you look at clinical drug development, the ability to get a drug approved in new pain indications, which are non-opioid, is low. … As a result, industry has avoided investing in it; and because of that, you find that private investment in this area has been extremely low.
“Venture capital investment in this area has lagged as well. Only 3.6% of all venture funding goes into this area, which is negligible. In other words, venture funding for novel R&D in pain is 17 times less than venture capital in cancer over the past decade.”
While it’s true there is no silver-bullet to addressing opioid abuse and addiction, it’s important to point out that if we’re going to solve this problem, it will depend on smart science and a regulatory environment that encourages access to safer alternatives.
“We are an industry which is focused on innovation so with that in mind we can best address the problem through changes in legislation and regulations to facilitate innovative approaches to solving the issues we face. These need to be addressed through Congress, the FDA and the NIH,” Levin notes.
And in case you missed it, Dr. Levin conveyed a similar message this winter about the steps needed to achieve an addiction-free America in an op-ed for Morning Consult.
“Better science, access to more choices for patients and providers, and new investments — will provide the dose of innovation we desperately need to better help those struggling with pain and addiction and end the opioid epidemic once and for all.”
Check out his full interview with WuXi AppTec Communications here.