Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Path to More Failed Therapeutics

The world is governed by very different personages from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes. Benjamin Disraeli

Ask a committee of 16 academics, 3 bureaucrats, 2 Fortune 500 executives and 1 Venture Capitalist to provide the President of the United States with a report on improving drug development in the US and they call in a panel of experts consisting of 14 academics, 9 bureaucrats, 12 Fortune 500 execs, 2 venture capitalists and 2 lawyers resulting in: "Report to the President on Propelling Innovation in Drug Discovery , Development and Evaluation".

The recently released report is devoid of any whisper of the existence of entrepreneurs and start-ups. It suggests that more basic research funding, a more efficient drug approval process and longer terms of patent coverage will mysteriously result in more and better therapeutics reaching market.

The report clearly identifies the wealth of new basic research findings, notes that big pharma has shifted away from early phase clinical trials and that venture capital has become reluctant to participate. Making the obvious, but unstated in the report, argument that the problem is the gap between where academia ends and where big pharma starts. That gap is the entrepreneurial venture/start-up.

None of the recommendations in the report will help the thousands of start-ups currently trying to bridge the gap between academia and big pharma. None of the recommendations will help thousands of prospective entrepreneurs in obtaining resources to get started.

The point?

First, the report won't have the desired impact. Second, and of higher relevance to this site, putting together a committee dominated by the same people who built the current system, the people who benefit the most from the existing system, and asking them to change it is unlikely to result in change. It could BE different.

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