by Jeffrey Ventimiglia, BSE, and Amir H. Kalali, MD
Mr. Ventimiglia is an analyst in Clinical Strategy and Solutions, Quintiles, Inc., Durham, North Carolina; Dr. Kalali is Vice President, Global Therapeutic Group Leader CNS, Quintiles, Inc; Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, California.

Psychiatry (Edgemont) 2010;7(9):14–15

Funding: There was no funding for the development and writing of this article.

Financial Disclosures: Mr. Ventimiglia reports no conflicts of interest to the content of this article. Dr. Kalali has served as an advisor to Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, and Vanda Pharmaceuticals.

Key Words: Psychiatric, pipeline, development, depression, schizophrenia, generalized anxiety, early development

Abstract: In this article, we explore the current state of the psychiatry drug development pipeline. Analysis suggests that overall, the psychiatry pipeline is heavily skewed toward a few major indications and tends to have more programs in early development (Phase I and II) than later stages (Phase III). A review of development sponsors shows a fairly even split of programs between Top 50 Pharmaceutical companies and small to mid-sized biopharmaceutical companies.


Over the past few months, we have done extensive work to understand prescribing habits in psychiatry. With trends moving toward the use of generic products, we reviewed the current size and state of the psychiatric development pipeline to understand which indications are being focused on and the type of pharmaceutical company that invests in psychiatric research and development.


We analyzed worldwide pharmaceutical pipeline data provided by EvaluatePharma in May of 2010, an organically built database through continuous research by a dedicated staff. In addition, we utilized Pharma Exec’s 2010 rankings of pharmaceutical companies based on 2009 prescription sales to classify individual companies within the pipeline.


A current review of the psychiatric pipeline shows that over 137 sponsors have approximately 417 ongoing development programs focused in 19 psychiatric indications. Although this seems to show a strong and diverse pipeline, a deeper analysis highlights two major ongoing trends prevalent in current development: 1) There is a heavy skew of development toward a select number of indications; and 2) The majority of development programs are concentrated in Phase I/II. There is a heavy skew of current psychiatry drug development toward the top three indications (Figure 1). Depression leads in development programs (26%) followed closely by schizophrenia (22%) and generalized anxiety disorder (12%). These three leading indications represent over 60 percent of the current development programs in the psychiatric pipeline. When reviewing these particular indications, we see a very strong early development pipeline with only a few ongoing Phase III programs (Figure 2). Phase I and II development represent 85 percent of the depression development programs, and in schizophrenia and generalized anxiety Phase I and II represent 97 and 94 percent of the development pipeline, respectively.

In addition to indication and phase, we reviewed sponsor type to further understand which type of pharmaceutical companies were currently investing in psychiatry drug development. Figure 3 presents the split of psychiatry development programs by company type. Slightly more than half (51%) of the drug development programs in the psychiatry pipeline are being sponsored by small to mid-sized biopharmaceutical companies. We found, however, that of the top 25 pharmaceutical companies ranked on 2009 prescription sales, 19 have at least one drug candidate in the psychiatry pipeline.