The statistics are staggering: non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for 63% of deaths annually worldwide, and 80% of them occur in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organization.

NCDs are characterized by their long duration and slow progression, and impose substantial clinical and economic burdens on society. Saving lives and lifting financial strains requires an acceleration in the pace of drug discovery, then making those drugs affordable and accessible to patients everywhere. It takes approximately 10 years for a new medicine to make it to market, and each drug costs nearly $2.6 billion to develop. A sustainable approach to addressing cost and access must include fostering innovation to meet the evolving needs of patients globally. Some strategies to consider include:

• Laying out a consumer-centric, sustainable system that promotes value, affordability and innovation to create the most appropriate healthcare for all;

• Harnessing the collective impact of participant commitments by connecting like-minded stakeholders to pilot new disruptive models of care delivery and payment;

• Leveraging the collective data platforms and analytics of participant organizations to allow for evaluation of the models and their impact on patients across the health continuum; and

• Bringing together researchers, regulators and innovators to develop clinical trial designs that are more efficient and less costly, and capable of accelerating the introduction of medicines to market.

Image: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The traditional “one-drug, one-target” paradigm for drug discovery oversimplifies the underpinnings of disease. The capacity of high-performance computing to analyze multiple aspects of drug-target interactions is likely to be game-changing by reducing the time needed for drug development. Precision medicine could ultimately reduce the overall cost to the system by developing targeted and affordable medicines for patients.

As an evidence-based patient advocacy organization committed to health equity, the American Heart Association aims to ensure treatments are available, affordable and targeted.

To that end, the Association established the AHA Center for Accelerated Drug Discovery and partnered with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Together, we are removing the guesswork from drug effectiveness by designing simulated environments for testing how drugs bind to their target proteins. Our aim is to reduce drug development time by up to 50%, as together we overcome the burden of drug discovery, cost and access.

Additionally, The AHA Institute for Precision Cardiovascular MedicineTM and Duke Clinical Research Institute’s data science team are working together to advance artificial intelligence and machine learning methods on its Precision Medicine Platform, powered by Amazon Web Services. Top scientists funded by DCRI grants are also developing state-of-the-art tools and data-harmonization methods to improve our ability to extract discoveries from data.

Scientific discovery has reached a tipping point, creating unprecedented opportunities for strategic relationships to solve healthcare challenges. Our community has the potential for quantum leaps forward, driven by advances in information and technology.