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May 15, 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 10)

Accelerating Small Molecule Research

Pharma Innovation Cycle Can Be Recharged Through Strategic Deployment of Technology

  • Optimizing Drug Candidate Attributes

    To increase the chance of commercial success (in terms of market share, reimbursement, and pricing), a good drug candidate must be sufficiently differentiated from existing and upcoming marketed drugs with which it will be competing.

    Pharmaceutical companies can introduce an early commercial success hurdle into the R&D process by using the innovation cycle reiteratively to seek a compound that has an “aspirational” profile. While the ideal profile may or may not be attainable, the drug developer can compare it with a “baseline profile” (that is, the minimal attributes for a commercial product), and make the decision to continue reiterative screening, or to proceed with the product in hand.

    With an accurate and detailed knowledge of the drug candidate’s attributes at an early stage, a drug maker can quickly predict its market value, and proceed along the path that will maximize the chance of creating a safe, effective, and well-differentiated drug in order to be able to command premium pricing.

    While there is no single facile solution to the pressures weighing on the pharmaceutical industry, this is a timely opportunity for reexamining the drug development process itself. The industry needs to reexamine the way in which it adopts and deploys new life science technologies.

    The good news is that the current cost of enabling tools, both in terms of capital equipment and labor, has reached an attractive price point that renders this a compelling value proposition. Given the long timeline and high cost of drug development compared with the relatively modest cost of these technologies, the benefit of being able to make swift decisions at critical junctures is a simple yet tangible way of improving the ROI.

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