The productivity crisis in pharmaceutical R&D
We analyze the decline of R&D productivity in pharmaceuticals and its determinants. Since the molecular biology revolution, science has dramatically expanded the set of plausible therapeutic targets. However, innovation has become more difficult to achieve, and attrition rates of R&D projects have increased, especially in late-phase clinical trials. We show that the R&D productivity slowdown is associated with a higher concentration of R&D investments in high-risk domains, corresponding to unsolved therapeutic needs and unexploited biological mechanisms. We compare the strategies of European and US companies, finding differences in the composition of R&D portfolios, but no evidence of any productivity gap.
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