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Video & Infographic: Developing a new drug is actually harder than rocket science

Holly Campbell   |     August 26, 2015   |   SHARE THIS

Prescription medicines save lives and cut health care costs, but conjuring a drug to life is a challenging undertaking – and the science is only getting harder. 

While it may sound counterintuitive, as our understanding of science grows, so does the complexity of developing new medicines -- particularly as treatments are increasingly tailored to the unique needs of individual patients. Failure is an inherent part of this complex process and the odds of success are low -just 12 percent of drugs entering clinical trials ever making it to patients. And thousands won’t even make it past the early discovery and pre-clinical testing stages.

Our new video explains how through failure, comes success. For example in the past 16 years, there were more than 100 unsuccessful attempts to develop medicines to treat Alzheimer’s disease, 96 for melanoma and 167 for lung cancer. During this same period, 3 medicines were approved to treat Alzheimer’s, 7 for melanoma and 10 for lung cancer.

 

 

Biology isn’t rocket science. It’s harder than rocket science. Each living thing is an amazingly complex system and each interacts with other living things in complex ways. That is why discovering and developing new treatment and cures is such a complex and risky undertaking. On average, it takes more than 10 years for just one medicine to make its way through the entire R&D process. And the average cost to develop just one medicine has risen to $2.6 billion.

Despite these risks and challenges, America’s biopharmaceutical companies are tireless in their pursuit of discovering new innovative medicines to improve the lives of patients. With more than 7,000 medicines in development around the world, PhRMA has never been more optimistic about the future and the potential to help patients live longer, healthier lives.

Watch our new video and check out our new infographic below to help you learn more about why developing a new drug is harder than rocket science.

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Holly Campbell

Holly Campbell Holly Campbell is a senior director of communications at PhRMA focusing on the cost and value of medicines. Prior to joining PhRMA, Holly worked for large and small public relations firms where she provided strategic communications counsel, media relations and partnership expertise to health care and pharmaceutical clients. In her free time, she enjoys taking barre classes, trying new restaurants and spending time with Boss and Poppy, her rescue pups.

Topics: R&D, drug cost

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