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Can adaptive clinical trials help to solve the productivity crisis of the pharmaceutical industry? - a scenario analysis


  • Jörg Mahlich

    (Health Economics and Outcomes Research, Janssen, Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson
    University of Düsseldorf)

  • Arne Bartol

    (Government Affairs, Janssen, Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson)

  • Srirangan Dheban

    (Health Economics and Outcomes Research, Janssen, Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson)


Aim The productivity of pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) investments is declining due to high failure rates in clinical research. Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledged that adaptive designs can make drug development more efficient and less costly. Our objective is to simulate cost-saving effects and estimate the impact on global R&D expenditures as well as possible outcomes measured in life-years gained. Methods Based on published drug-development cost data we calculate potential cost savings derived from variations in clinical success rates that result from employing adaptive trial designs. In a subsequent step we estimate how those cost changes affect global R&D expenditures and outcomes. Results Our calculations indicate that an adaptive trial design with the potential to increase success rates of clinical trials by 4 percentage points could lower development costs for a new drug from 2.6 to 2.2bn USD. On a global scale, this cost reduction would free up an additional 4.2bn USD for investment into pharmaceutical R&D to bring about drug innovations that in turn would be capable of generating up to 3.5 million life-years. Conclusion New clinical trial designs are crucial to improving productivity within the pharmaceutical industry and to fostering a sustainable health-care system.

Suggested Citation

  • Jörg Mahlich & Arne Bartol & Srirangan Dheban, 2021. "Can adaptive clinical trials help to solve the productivity crisis of the pharmaceutical industry? - a scenario analysis," Health Economics Review, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 1-10, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:hecrev:v:11:y:2021:i:1:d:10.1186_s13561-021-00302-6
    DOI: 10.1186/s13561-021-00302-6

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chris Sampson’s journal round-up for 8th March 2021
      by Chris Sampson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2021-03-08 12:00:01

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