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Sunday, July 03, 2005

Big Trouble in Big Pharma

Following on from the last post, the creation of jobs in high value end activities is a contingent matter, there are no guarantees about time scales here (timing again). Investment in new drugs would be a case in point (or in genetic therapies, or whatever). I have no doubt that in the long run "miracles are possible", but the question is when *will* the future arrive, and if they're all bankrupt before it does? Economics isn't simply technology + innovation + good management. Apparently finding a new drug may cost $2 billion by 2010.

Drug companies do an awful job of finding new medicines. They rely too much on billion-dollar blockbuster drugs that are both overmarketed and overprescribed. And they have been too slow to disclose side effects of popular medicines.

Typical complaints from drug industry critics, right? Well, yes. Only this time they come from executives at Eli Lilly, the sixth-largest American drug maker and the company that invented Prozac.

From this placid Midwestern city, well removed from the Boston-to-Washington corridor that is the core of the pharmaceutical industry, Lilly is ambitiously rethinking the way drugs are discovered and sold. In a speech to shareholders in April, Sidney Taurel, Lilly's chief executive, presented the company's new strategy in a pithy phrase: "the right dose of the right drug to the right patient at the right time."

1 comment:

Edward Hugh said...

What I'm getting at here is that there are no guarantees ex ante that the kinds of jobs needed to replace those that move out will in fact arrive. I take pharma since the 'medical revolution' is one of the areas which is often touted as a high value activity which fits the needed profile. If the pace of worthwhile discovery isn't sufficiently rapid, and the economics don't work, then it won't be the 'sure thing' some people think it is.