The domestic drugmakers have become more aggressive to develop dementia treatments since the Moon Jae-in government pushed a policy to take more responsibility for taking care of dementia patients.
Daewoong Pharmaceutical, Dongkook Pharmaceutical, C-TRI, ICURE and G2G Bio have started developing new drugs based on the ingredients of donepezil and rivastigmine, which are prescribed most frequently across the world.
What the new drug candidates have in common is they are all incrementally modified medications by changing the salt base and aimed to enhance the user’s convenience.
Some experimental drugs come in the patch form so that a guardian, not a dementia patient, can apply it to the patient’s hard-to-reach spots, which prevents an accidental removal by the patient. Their effectiveness lasts for a week, which is easy to use. Some others come as a long-term regular injection so that a single injection makes the drug's efficacy last for a month.
Daewoong Pharmaceutical is preparing two new dementia drugs. Using donepezil as the major ingredient which is used worldwide to treat dementia, the new drugs will come in a patch form and an injection, the company said. Dongkook and G2G Bio are working to come up with a new injection, also based on donepezil.
ICURE is developing a new patch for dementia patients, while C-TRI is working on a rivastigmine-based and sustained-release drug. Existing treatments are immediate-release drugs with a short duration of efficacy, which requires two times of ingestion per day. C-TRI aims to gain a larger share of the dementia market by enhancing the user’s convenience with a sustained-release treatment.
“Changing a tablet into a patch or an injection sounds easy but requires an advanced technology. Still, with the existing ingredient, drugmakers can shorten the time to develop an incrementally modified drug,” said a researcher at a midsize pharmaceutical company.
Drugs to treat dementia need convenience, not only for patients but guardians. Patches and sustained-release injections will be a new breakthrough for the sluggish dementia drug market, the researcher went on to say, adding that new drug candidates will be commercialized soon.
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