Join Now

Utah Life Sciences News & Events

New report shows more than 260 medicines in development to fight neurodegenerative diseases

November 3, 2021

With neurodegenerative diseases affecting millions of individuals in the United States, now is an important time to spotlight the increasing impact these diseases have on our country’s aging population and their families.

Neurodegenerative diseases occur when nervous system cells (neurons) in the brain, spinal cord and/or peripheral nervous system begin to deteriorate or become functionally impaired. As neurons deteriorate, people may first experience relatively mild symptoms, such as coordination issues or problems remembering names, but as more neurons are affected, symptoms progress and eventually some patients lose the ability to walk or function independently. Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease are the most common neurodegenerative diseases.

Because neurodegenerative diseases strike primarily in mid- to late-life and the risk of being affected increases dramatically with age, cases are expected to soar as many Americans are living longer and the population ages. If new and effective medicines are not found, more than 12 million Americans are projected to suffer from a neurodegenerative disease over the next 30 years. Neurodegenerative diseases alone already cost the U.S. economy more than $655 billion a year in medical expenses and economic losses.

Today, PhRMA released a new report detailing the more than 260 medicines in development for 29 neurodegenerative diseases, all of which are in clinical trials or awaiting review by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While research and development (R&D) for neurodegenerative diseases has been challenging with more setbacks than success, biopharmaceutical innovation has resulted in significant new medical milestones and scientific advancements. The biopharmaceutical industry continues to work to explore new targets for earlier detection, treatments for development and ultimately, cures for neurodegenerative diseases.

The 261 medicines in development include:

  • 85 medicines in development for Alzheimer’s disease, which affects more than 6 million Americans and, along with other dementias, will cost the American economy an estimated $355 billion in 2021.
  • 64 medicines for Parkinson’s disease, which affects nearly one million Americans. Incidence of the disease is expected to rise to 1.2 million by 2030.
  • 38 medicines for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). About 5,000 people are diagnosed with ALS each year in the United States.
  • 33 medicines for multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic neurological disease that affects nearly one million Americans, a number that is substantially higher than previously reported based on a new 2017 study.
  • 25 medicines for neurodegenerative genetic diseases, including Rett syndrome and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Both disorders are caused by a gene defect and affect about one in 10,000 children.
  • 14 medicines for Huntington’s disease. There are more than 40,000 symptomatic Americans and another 200,000 at-risk of inheriting the disease with currently no cure for the disease.


Read the full report here.