Category: Productivity

It’s a Shame that Scientists Develop Drugs, Instead of Engineers

Museum of Natural History. That’s a funny name, isn’t it? The whole building is full of scientific and biological items like skeletons and fossils. Where’s the history part?  Shouldn’t it be called Museum of Science? Most people would put science and history on the opposite end of the spectrum.

When you hear a name like that, it almost feels like someone’s trying to obfuscate, trying to Continue reading “It’s a Shame that Scientists Develop Drugs, Instead of Engineers”

Power of Failure

“All I wanted was the opportunity to fail” – Jack Goeken, Founder of MCI

You can’t have successes without risking failure

When medical students are taught about appendicitis, we are taught that 20% of the appendectomies should find that the appendix does not need to removed. In other words, we should have such a low threshold for surgery that in 20% of the cases, we should be wrong. If only 10% of the surgeries are wrong, we are killing patients because Continue reading “Power of Failure”

(Don’t) Blame the Chemists

Couple of days ago, I was talking to a medicinal chemist about why drug development productivity might have decreased.

Now, mind you, this guy was an “excellent chemist.” He’s been at this for over 30 years. He’s run big discovery groups for major pharmas. More recently, he’s been at small biotechs, and he’s been very productive. With 50 chemists or so, he’s managed to pop out 3 candidates in the last several years, all of which have been partnered with Continue reading “(Don’t) Blame the Chemists”

Whence the Low Productivity?

One of the most intractable problems in drug development has been productivity.

Some feel that productivity has decreased substantially while other believe that it has merely remained obstinately the same.  What is clear is that investment and costs have been rising, and the output has at best remained constant.

I’ve had a lot of conversations about this with Continue reading “Whence the Low Productivity?”

What We Get Wrong About Drug Development

Looking back at history of drug development, and the direction it has gone in the last twenty years or so, I think there are perhaps some assumptions about biology of drugs that we might want to challenge or question. Below are some of my thoughts about drug development productivity I’ve collected over the last couple of years.

Absolute levels of drugs and molecules tell only part of the story. Continue reading “What We Get Wrong About Drug Development”

Improving Productivity

Is There Hope for Improving Drug Development Productivity?

I was recently reading yet another paper bemoaning the dropping productivity in drug development. The authors were discussing the most likely explanations for the decline, which were

  • tighter regulation
  • illusory decline (no actual decline)
  • depletion of low-hanging fruit
  • increasing risk aversion by the drug companies
  • rising hurdles on safety

I mention this only because the paper was written in 1978 Continue reading “Improving Productivity”