A new report by “The Economist” laments the lack of innovation in the biopharma sector

On “The Digital Biologist” a couple of months back, I published an article about a troubling trend in the pharmaceutical industry in which R&D investment costs are soaring even as the approval rate for new drugs actually declines. One of the reasons I posited for the apparent stagnation in this sector, was the inability of corporate leaders to abandon old practices and embrace innovation and new methodologies. “Do what you’ve always done and you’ll get what you’ve always gotten”.

Now a new report from “The Economist” (sponsored by Quintiles) provides some real numbers to back up this idea – and while it may not be a strictly scientific or comprehensive survey of the sector, it does provide real evidence of a kind of corporate inertia at the highest levels, with regard to embracing new ideas and changing course from the rocky road that the industry currently finds itself on.

I would encourage you to read this interesting and well written report in full, but here are some of its major findings in summary …

Less than half of industry executives even have faith that their own R&D programs currently in place, are adequate to meet the needs of their companies.

As much of 70% of the global R&D budget for the sector may actually be wasted in fruitless programs.

Barely half of all companies who responded to the survey say that they are prioritizing change and innovation and this includes the companies who admit that the programs they do have in place are largely inadequate.

An inflexible corporate culture that fears change is cited as the leading impediment to improved innovation.

In a sector that is seen as being driven more by fear than by ambition, the companies that are doing well are those in which life science innovators are able to create a culture that recognizes and rewards effort rather than penalizing failure.

You can download a full copy of this report here

The author Gordon Webster, has spent his career working at the intersection of biology and computation and specializes in computational approaches to life science research and development.

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