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More Drugs Approved in 2015

The number of new drugs approved in 2015 reached a 19-year high, the Associated Press reports. The US Food and Drug Administration approved 45 drugs with containing new ingredients last year, up from 2014's 41 new drugs. This, the AP adds, is the most since 1996.

This increase, it notes, has been fueled by an industry-wide focus on the development of drugs for rare diseases and conditions that are hard to treat. Such drugs benefit from an accelerated review process, additional patent protections, and higher prices.

The AP adds that though this focus on specialty drugs is good for both patients and developers, it also feeds into a wider political debate on drug prices. For instance, Vertex Pharmaceuticals' Orkambi (lumacaftor and ivacaftor), which was approved this year for cystic fibrosis patients with the F508 del mutation, costs some $259,000 a year, the AP says, while Bristol-Myers Squibb's Daklinza (daclatasvir) is priced at $63,000 for a 12-week regimen.

Analysts further tell the AP that drug makers are getting better at plucking the most promising drugs out of their pipelines, as one in 13 early stage drugs have recently made it to market as compared to one in 19 between 2007 and 2011.

H/T: Pharmalot