Over the past year or so, the Findacure fans amongst you may have heard us mention social impact bonds, once or twice… or maybe a little more. It’s certainly not like we think about them day and night, or anything – well, not all of us.
Now the reason for Findacure ‘harping on’ about social impact bonds is that we really believe that they could be a powerful tool to incentivise clinical trials of existing generic drugs to treat rare diseases. If successful, this could deliver new treatments to patients relatively quickly and at little expense.
For the uninitiated amongst you, a social impact bond (SIB) is a financial tool designed to reward projects that deliver a benefit to society in a cost effective manner. For our rare disease SIB the mechanism is relatively simple. Findacure will use private investment to fund phase II clinical trials into a range of drug repurposing projects for rare diseases. We will select those diseases that cost the NHS a lot to manage. Successful trials should provide the NHS with much more robust evidence to prescribe the generic drug to rare disease patients off-label. This means that patients will benefit for a new and effective treatment, while the NHS will save money by treating them.
The SIB structure means that a proportion of those financial savings made by the NHS will be paid back into the SIB, allowing the initial investment to be repaid, and more research to be funded.
Of course, the idea is sound in principle, but we wanted to prove that it could work in specific rare diseases. So, last year we applied for a Big Lottery Fund Grant to do just that.
Well, we’re pleased to announce that at the end of 2015 Findacure were awarded a grant from the Big Lottery Fund to develop our Social Impact Bond model. This means that for the first four months of 2016, Findacure and our collaborators will be running a project to prove that a social impact bond can be used to fund the repurposing of generic drugs for rare diseases. During this time we’ll be developing cost of illness models on three specific rare diseases, which will allow us to understand what they cost the NHS now, and therefore how much money we can potentially save them by repurposing.
Throughout the project we’ll be working with clinicians and patient groups to get a better idea of how we’d run a trial for a repurposed generic drug. We’ll also speak to patients themselves to get a better understanding of what they need from the NHS, from treatments, and from clinical trials.
Findacure are also proud to say that the NHS are providing both time and expertise to help us develop this model. It’s an exciting time for Findacure and our drug repurposing programme, and we hope to be able to bring you plenty more news on of SIB development project in the coming months. First up, we’ll be giving a talk at DPharm Europe about our project, along with our collaborators Numbers For Good, Cures Within Reach, and Costello Medical Consulting, on the 10th of February. This will be followed by our Webinar on Drug Repurposing on February 16th, in collaboration with Healx, and our own Scientific Conference on Rare Disease Day. Be sure to follow our social media updates to stay on top of all the latest news!
If you’d like to learn more about Findacure’s drug repurposing programme, or get involved, please contact our scientific officer Rick at the following email address: