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 Inside Innovation: The Drug Discovery Process

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Join date : 2009-11-07

PostSubject: Inside Innovation: The Drug Discovery Process   Mon Nov 09, 2009 4:01 pm

Inside Innovation: The Drug Discovery Process

The path from understanding a disease to treating it is long, difficult and expensive, but it is the mission of pharmaceutical research companies to face these challenges. For the first time in history, scientists are beginning to understand the inner workings of human disease at the molecular level. Recent advances in genomics, proteomics and computational power present new ways to understand illness. The task of discovering and developing safe and effective drugs is even more promising as our knowledge of disease increases.

It takes about 10-15 years to develop one new medicine from the time it is discovered to when it is available for treating patients. The average cost to research and develop each successful drug is estimated to be $800 million to $1 billion. This number includes the cost of the thousands of failures: For every 5,000-10,000 compounds that enter the research and development (R&D) pipeline, ultimately only one receives approval.

These numbers defy imagination, but a deeper understanding of the R&D process can explain why so many compounds don’t make it and why it takes such a large, lengthy effort to get one medicine to patients. Success requires immense resources — the best scientific minds, highly sophisticated technology and complex project management. It also takes persistence and, sometimes, luck. Ultimately, though, the process of drug discovery brings hope and relief to millions of patients.
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