Why focusing on the quantity of pharma innovation is misleading

Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

Since the early 2000s, pundits have lamented that there is an innovation crisis in the pharmaceutical industry. One of the most common reasons given is the challenge of bringing new drugs to market.

The U.S. Government Accounting Office concluded in 20016 that the “productivity of [the pharma industry’s] research and development expenditures has been declining.” The cost of developing a new drug frequently tops $1 billion, and scores of drug candidates never make it to market.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened society’s appreciation for the pharmaceutical industry’s innovation, the concept of an innovation crisis hasn’t gone away.

Many of the arguments purporting such a crisis focus on the quality of pharmaceutical innovation rather than its quantity, said Troy Groetken, a shareholder, board member, and executive committee member at the intellectual prop…

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