The truth about drug innovation

Jun 24, 2008

A new report co-authored by Manhattan Institute senior fellow Benjamin Zycher, and Joseph DiMasi, and Christopher-Paul Milne, researchers from the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, examines case histories for thirty-five important pharmaceutical innovations. Skeptics of the private industry assert that the development of new medicines is most attributable to publicly funded sources.

As Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, remarked during an interview with PBS News : "Innovation comes mainly from NIH-supported research in academic medical centers. The drug companies do almost no innovation."

In this new study, the authors debunk this assertion and argue that the private sector plays a critical role in drug development.

Key findings include:

-- NIH-sponsored research tends to be concentrated on the basic science of disease biology, biochemistry, and disease processes, the goal of which is to identify biologic targets that might prove vulnerable to drugs yet to be developed.

-- Private sector contributions are weighted heavily toward the applied science of discovering ways to pursue treatments and cures for adverse medical conditions.

The authors conclude that NIH-sponsored and private-sector drug research are complementary to one another and are equally necessary in order to provide patients with better care and treatment.

Source: Tufts University, Health Sciences

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