Development

Drug development crisis linked to bad technology choices, experts argue

The search for new medicines is becoming unsustainably expensive despite huge technological advances because researchers are using the wrong methods, experts say. They say drug discovery should focus on 'validity' - how well the results of experiments predict results in sick people. Instead, it has focused on methods that are easy to industrialize or methods that are academically fashionable.

In a report published in the journal PLOS ONE, Jack Scannell, from Oxford University's Centre for the Advancement of Sustainable Medical Innovation, and consultant Jim Bosley approach drug discovery using mathematical tools that are used by economists to study decision making. They show that the chance of discovering an effective drug is surprisingly sensitive to the validity of the experimental methods. Small changes in validity can have a bigger effect than running 10 or even 100 times more experiments.

They argue that productivity has declined because the most predictive methods lead to the discovery of good drugs, and research in those areas stops (e.g., stomach ulcers). This leaves scientists working on as-yet-untreated diseases using less predictive discovery methods (e.g., Alzheimer's). They also suggest that changing industrial and scientific fashions have contributed to the problem.

The result: Methods have become less predictive over time, worse decisions have been made, and the cost of discovery has gone up.

Drug approvals have increased since 2012. The researchers say that this is likely down to the rising use of genetic information which improves the validity of the methods to discover treatments for rare diseases, though less so for common diseases.

Dr Jack Scannell said: "There is a nasty puzzle at the heart of modern biomedical research. On one hand, the technologies that people think are important have become hundreds, thousands, or even billions of times cheaper. On the other hand, it costs nearly 100 times more to bring a drug to market today than it did in 1950. New drugs can be very expensive, yet the industry is closing labs and firing scientists. Our work goes some way towards explaining the puzzle. Governments, companies, and charities should focus on identifying and funding predictive methods, even if they don't match current scientific fashion."

Scannell JW, Bosley J (2016) When Quality Beats Quantity: Decision Theory, Drug Discovery, and the Reproducibility Crisis. PLoS ONE 11(2): e0147215. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0147215

Most Popular Now

One family's history of the rare co…

In recognition of International Fabry Awareness month, Shire has released the trailer for Our Fabry Family Tree, a short film series featuring a family who were unknowing...

Read more

Bristol-Myers Squibb reports first …

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE:BMY) today reported results for the first quarter of 2016, which were highlighted by strong sales for Opdivo, Eliquis and our hepatitis...

Read more

Researchers discover potential trea…

Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai say that tiny doses of a cancer drug may stop the raging, uncontrollable immune response to infection that lead...

Read more

Ready. Raise. Rise. Campaign

The Ready. Raise. Rise. campaign encourages everyone to raise and share a flag to salute those who have been touched by cancer, especially patients and caregivers, and le...

Read more

Pfizer reports first-quarter 2016 r…

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) reported financial results for first-quarter 2016 and updated certain components of its 2016 financial guidance. Reported revenues totaled $13.0 b...

Read more

AstraZeneca completes acquisition o…

AstraZeneca has completed the acquisition of the core respiratory business of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited ("Takeda"). The agreement, announced in December 2015...

Read more

Research points to a new treatment …

Researchers have shown how controlling cholesterol metabolism in pancreatic cancer cells reduces metastasis, pointing to a potential new treatment using drugs previously ...

Read more

Grants4Apps Accelerator 2016: You i…

The Grants4Apps (G4A) Accelerator developed by Bayer invites health IT and technology startups to apply for the program's 2016 edition. This year, Bayer looks primarily i...

Read more

Why are women less likely to be pre…

Statins are equally effective at decreasing risk of coronary events in men and women, and yet women are less likely to be prescribed these cholesterol-lowering drugs than...

Read more

A faster and cheaper way to produce…

A novel way of synthesising a promising new antibiotic has been identified by scientists at the University of Bristol. By expressing the genes involved in the production ...

Read more

Pfizer awards more than $1 million …

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) has awarded a total of more than $1 million in funding to five leading breast cancer advocacy organizations to support projects focused on metastat...

Read more

Bengt Sjöberg donates SEK 2 billion…

Bengt Sjöberg, resident in Hong Kong but originally from Lysekil, Sweden, has founded the Sjöberg Foundation, to which he has donated SEK 2 billion. His hope is that this...

Read more

Digest World Pharma Newsletter

Subscribe to our weekly Digest World Pharma Newsletter and stay updated on the latest World Pharma News. Subscribe now, it's free!

Pharmaceutical Companies

[ A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Z ]