Market Barriers to the Development of Pharmacotherapies for the Treatment of Cocaine Abuse and Addiction: Final Report. Industry Perception of Science Base Readiness


There was a divergence of opinion among the pharmaceutical company interviewees about the readiness of the science base for cocaine pharmacotherapies. Representatives of two companies expressed skepticism about the readiness of the science base. One representative indicated that current limitations stem from a lack of understanding regarding the biological and genetic basis of addiction. The interviewee contended that, in contrast to the situation for Parkinson's disease, researchers have been unable to implicate the genetic abnormalities underlying addiction, and that the science base for cocaine abuse and addiction is "not close." This interviewee regarded the existing cocaine pharmacotherapies as "half-way technologies." Furthermore, scientists from the same company judged that the probability of a scientific breakthrough in the area of cocaine abuse and addiction in the near future is very low.

Representatives of another pharmaceutical company indicated that a financially successful cocaine medication needed to demonstrate long-term efficacy, but reported that the current science base for achieving long-term efficacy is "very weak." In contrast, representatives of another pharmaceutical company indicated strongly that the science base is ready, and consequently that the science base is no longer a market barrier to development of cocaine pharmacotherapies. This company reported that it had successfully identified several drug candidates that exhibited cocaine blocking activities in both in vivo and in vitro models.

Scientific executives from one company who questioned the science base did suggest that there are opportunities for existing and potential products to be used as effective adjuncts to cocaine abuse therapy. For example, existing drugs for anxiety could help manage symptoms associated with withdrawal.

The views cited in this study concerning the readiness of the science base come from personnel who are knowledgeable about drug development and marketing and are in decision-making roles in companies with real or potential interest in this field. However, these views are taken from a limited sample of such personnel.