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Posts tagged ‘drug development’

Understanding industry

How can we develop new drugs and get them to people more quickly? At the MRC’s Open Council meeting last week, a lot of the discussion focused on how the changing environment for the pharmaceutical industry means we need new models for drug discovery, and much closer working between academic and industry researchers. Katherine Nightingale rounds up the discussion.

There was a time when pharmaceutical companies produced new drugs at a steady rate. They invested in the research and development (R&D) of drugs, occasionally producing ‘blockbusters’ which could treat many people, and making enough profit to inject back into R&D. It took around 10–15 years to develop a drug and, while potential drugs often failed to jump the hurdles of clinical trials, there were enough in the pipeline to keep things going.

But, as we heard at the Open Council meeting last week, now that’s simply not the case: fewer and fewer new drugs are being developed, and it’s taking longer and getting more expensive to produce them. The patents have run out on many blockbuster drugs, meaning that pharma companies generate less revenue to plough back into R&D. And as we learn more about disease, the treatments that are produced are more specific to particular groups of patients, meaning that the markets for individual drugs are smaller. Read more

Philip Cohen: Driving drug development

Today the MRC is honouring two of our most eminent scientists with the MRC Millennium Medal, which recognises research that has led to significant health and economic benefits. In the first of our profiles of the recipients, we meet Sir Philip Cohen, who has devoted his 40-year career to studying a type of cell regulation called protein phosphorylation. His collaborations with the pharmaceutical industry have helped to accelerate the development of new drugs for a variety of diseases. He spoke to Katherine Nightingale about ‘blue skies’ research, working with industry and birdwatching.   

Philip Cohen

Philip Cohen

If you need reminding of just how long researchers need to toil away in the lab before their findings might impact on the ‘real world’, look no further than Philip Cohen. Now credited as partly responsible for one of the largest and fastest growing areas of drug discovery, it was 25 years before he first got a call from a pharmaceutical company.

“People used to say ‘Oh, what you’re doing is interesting but it will never be the slightest bit of use for improving health or for wealth creation’,” Philip recalls. Read more