US biopharmaceutical companies have 198 new medicinescurrently in R&D which can potentially help the more than 50 million Americans who have at least one of the 100 different musculoskeletal disorders, including arthritis, says a new industry report.

Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the US, notes the report, which is published by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). Each year, the condition is responsible for 44 million US outpatient doctor visits, plus nearly one million hospital stays and nearly 10,000 deaths. Moreover, arthritis costs the US economy nearly $128 billion every year in both direct medical costs and indirect costs, such as lost wages and productivity.

By 2030, it is estimated that the number of Americans with some form of diagnosed arthritis will increase to more than 67 million, the report notes.

Among the 198 new medicines and vaccines - which are all either in clinical trials or awaiting review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - are: 

- 67 for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which affects around 1.3 million adults in the US;

- 23 for osteoporosis, which has around 10 million sufferers in the US, some 80% of whom are women;

- 19 for lupus, which is estimated to affect 1.5 million Americans;

- 19 for osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis with nearly 27 million Americans reported to be suffering from the condition;

- 15 for musculoskeletal pain which affects the muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones; and

- nine treatments for fibromyalgia, which affects 3-6 million Americans.

Among the new treatments currently being tested for use against musculoskeletal disorders are:

- a new monoclonal antibody (MAb) in development for lupus which modulates B-cells that product antibodies against the body's own cells and tissue, causing the immune system to turn on itself;

- a potential treatment for RA which inhibits two types of an enzyme that are key components in signaling activation of cytokines and growth factors that are elevated in patients with RA; and

- a potential first-in-class medicine, currently in development for pain associated with osteoarthritis, which is an inhibitor of a gene-encoding protein that plays a role in inflammatory pain.

Other treatments currently in development include three for Behcet's syndrome, four for Raynaud's disease, six each for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and scleroderma, and seven each for gout, spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis, the report adds.