Is it possible that pharmaceutical innovation has accelerated over the past two decades — with the novelty of small molecule and peptide drugs steadily increasing?
That’s the conclusion suggested by a recent study published in ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, which found roughly 65% of FDA-approved drugs in 2020 were structurally novel. Last year’s drug approvals even included at least one new molecular entity based on a novel molecular shape.
The finding flies in the face of the talk of an innovation crisis in the pharmaceutical industry. Before COVID-19 struck, pharma industry observers tended to chide the industry’s recent innovation track record. R&D costs per drug have increased significantly, while drug blockbusters have grown more scarce. Despite the pharma’s historically high-profit margins, the sector generally trailed the S&P 500 in the years leading up to the pandemic.
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