SAN FRANCISCO—More than 20 leading pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostic companies, along with major academic brain research centers and patient advocacy groups, have joined together to form a new trade association called the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO). Based in San Francisco, NIO is a non-profit group that will aim to accelerate the development of treatments and cures for brain and nervous system diseases.
"Despite the clear need and significant market opportunity, neurotechnology companies face a host of issues that stifle innovation, growth and rapid delivery of effective therapies. NIO will provide a collective voice for commercial neuroscience organizations to address these issues," says Zack Lynch, founder and executive director of the NIO. "We will kick off our first year with a global awareness campaign highlighting the industry's progress and a public policy tour for members to interact with government officials."
The $110 billion neurotechnology industry includes pharmaceuticals, biologics, cell-based therapeutics and medical devices, as well as diagnostic and surgical equipment for critical unmet needs, including: Alzheimer's, addiction, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, hearing loss, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, obesity, pain, Parkinson's, schizophrenia, stroke and other brain-related illnesses.
More than 1.5 billion people worldwide and nearly 100 million Americans suffer from a brain or nervous system illness. In addition to the human suffering aspect, the annual economic burden has reportedly reached over $1 trillion worldwide with $300 billion a year in the United States alone. This burden is accelerating as the population ages and increases in size—and this in turn is creating unprecedented demand for treatments that delay, prevent and cure chronic neurological and psychiatric diseases.
The 500 companies involved in commercial neuroscience face fundamentally different investment requirements, research and development challenges, and regulatory milestones than other life science and healthcare companies, according to the NIO, and the organization was thus created to help governments, patients and the public understand the unique needs of the neurotech industry.
"We are delighted to be a founding member of NIO," says Dr. J. Donald deBethizy, president and CEO of Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Targacept, Inc. "We are pleased that this advocacy group has been formed to address the important issues of our industry."