According to data from the US Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) developing a new drug costs $1.2bn (€877) and takes between 10 and 15 years, regardless of whether the candidate in question is a small molecule or a biopharmaceutical.
And, while this figure is disputed by some who suggest the pharmaceutical industry is inflating the cost of drug development for political reasons, it is a widely held opinion that per product R&D spending is too high.
One who takes this view Eli Lilly veteran Bernard Munos, who is the founder of the InnoThink Center for Research in Biomedical Innovation and an advocate of business innovation in the pharmaceutical industry.
He told BioPharma-Reporter.com that: “If their [drug company] R&D spending exceeds $1 billion per new drug launched, they are not doing the right things, which typically means that they do far too much defensive R&D, and far too little innovative research.
“To reduce total R&D spend per new drug launched, they need to shift money from drug development back to discovery. This implies that they must stop green lighting "safe" mediocre candidates that fail massively during phase III and submission.
The solution – according to Munos – is that developers “only move to the clinic candidates that have the hallmarks of scientific breakthroughs. This applies to small molecules as well as biopharmaceuticals.”
Munos also has some ideas as to where these scientific breakthroughs will come from – collaboration.
“To get these breakthroughs, they [drug developers] must create and drip feed far-flung external and internal networks of scientists working on game-changing ideas.
“Each project should be funded as long as the data generated supports the view that it is a breakthrough in the making. The day this is no longer true, the project should be abandoned, and money reallocated.