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The Future of Pharma in the UK

It has been difficult to avoid the news of the continuous downsizing of Pharma, and to those in the UK this has been especially painful recently. There is an excellent opinion piece here, written by Simon Campbell, ex-head of R&D at Pfizer, and also ex-President of the Royal Society of Chemistry. It was also interesting to  see some of the comments from David Phillips (the current President of the of the Royal Society of Chemistry) that...

"the easy targets for new drugs... in the body... essentially have all been used up"

This is a major interest of ours, as regular readers will know; so expect a post on that exact subject soon.


Hi John,

I have written a post called What is the Future for Drug Discovery?, where I address some of Simon's proposals.
My belief is that in general they will not work, as they only focus lobbying, cutting expenses, borrowing public money, and focusing still on small molecules.

What is your take on all this?
jpo said…

I looked at your post - some great comments. As is clear, it's not a simple issue - there are large economic questions, vested commercial and professional interests, and ultimately, ill patients, etc behind all of this.

The allocation of public funds is a hot political issue at the moment, but personally I would rather public funds are spent on healthcare research than bank and bondholder rescue. or into the pocket of speculators.

The long-tail is a seductive idea, but I've never seen a really compelling argument for it in an economic setting.

Everyone is after some form of a return on investment - the government, investors, and the public - at the end of the day someone has to pay - and arguably the large-scale exit of investor funds is shifting the opportunity to the government and public (indirectly).

Small molecules are the method of choice treatment for disease - and focus has to be on these where at all possible.

Although the patent and regulatory system for drugs is complex and is an imperfect system - I think in twenty years time there will be very significant issues over innovation and regulation of biologicals, that make us look back on the year 2005 like some distant Utopian land.

We should have a beer sometime!

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