Sunday, January 4, 2009

Drug companies seek a cure for their ailing research. With costs and regulation rising, a new way of developing blockbuster treatments is needed.

THERE was warm applause for Lord [James] Black last month when the veteran drug developer stepped up in front of an 800-strong audience of business leaders and VIPs in the City to collect an award. The Nobel prize winner was being honoured by Medical Futures, a healthcare interest group, for his contribution to medical research — he is responsible for developing beta blockers, among other significant breakthroughs.

However, Black wonders whether, if he had been in his professional prime in today’s environment, his various discoveries would have happened. He argues that a safety-first approach is hindering the development of the next generation of blockbuster drugs.

“The problem, in my recent experience of trawling new products round big pharma’s R&D divisions, is that they are only comfortable in well-recognised fields,” he said.


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