Obstacles and Opportunities for Cholinergic Drug Development in the Treatment of Cognitive Disorders

Curr Pharm Des. 2016;22(14):1981-5. doi: 10.2174/1381612822666160127111453.


The frequency of neuropsychiatric disorders is greater than that of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes combined, and is growing at a faster rate than any other ailments in the United States or Europe. Despite a considerable need for the development of treatments for central nervous system disorders, pharmaceutical companies continue to reduce investment in this area of research. Of particular concern is the treatment of diseases and disorders that affect cognitive function, which are often given a lower priority for research investment than life threatening conditions or those with overt physical symptoms. Several reasons exist for this reduced investment, including a poor understanding of the mechanisms underlying impaired cognitive function, costly and long periods of development for these medications, disproportionately lower success rates, and a stigma associated with the medical treatment of mental illness. This paper will discuss these issues, review some of the successes resulting from research investment and discuss opportunities that should encourage increased research investment in cognitive disorders and their treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cholinergic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Cognition Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Humans


  • Cholinergic Agents