Peaking into the Drug Pipeline

As a constant during the news stories covering mergers and takeovers between pharmaceutical and biotech companies, people tend to talk about their drug pipeline, how they need to combine their pipelines in order to meet their financial goals for the quarter/year/decade. Often, they talk about how their combined efforts will result in a sruge of new drugs for a variety of diseases and shareholders and patients will rejoice.

Strangely, these optimistic predictions don’t seem to ever quite pan out. But they know what went wrong and the next one, they assure us, will do it.

Well, it turns out that it won’t. Or it hasn’t so far at any rate.

A recent paper appeared in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery by Bernard Munos, from Lilly. It states, basically, that the rate of new drug introduction has remained pretty much constant since 1950 and that the huge amount of money thrown at the problem hasn’t really improved things, especially not to the point where drug companies are producing multiple new molecular entities (NME, basically newly approved pharmaceutical products).

It is a remarkable read. I am still taking it all in. For more discussion, I point you to Derek Lowe’s In the Pipeline (his initial post is here and there are several others) and another blog post by Eric Milgram, who are both doing a great job as commentators.

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