A number of biotechnology companies are moving into the market for combination drugs, which are mixtures of two already-approved drugs. Most companies are drawn to the cost-saving opportunities that lie in combining two drugs that have already been approved. Prominent firms in the combination drugs business include CombinatoRx, Pozen and Orexigen. The increasing number of drugs that have gone off patent provide a steady supply of combination drug ingredients for companies to test. Combination drugs may in fact be more effective than single drugs, because biochemical pathways of disease can frequently take multiple paths. These drugs also offer some economic protection for larger companies, as they can allow weaker-selling or off-patent drugs to be paired with a stronger-selling or patented drug. Because their constituents’ properties are already known, combination drugs often have a quicker path to clinical trials than novel medicines. However, hurdles still exist in answering the FDA’s questions regarding combination drugs’ usefulness, and while combination drugs can be patented, they can face challenges if the combinations are found to be too obvious.

Source: New York Times

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