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Challenge to perception of US R&D

A paper has challenged the assumption that the US is way ahead of Europe in pharmaceutical research productivity

A paper published in the journal Health Affairs has challenged the assumption that the US is way ahead of Europe in pharmaceutical research productivity.

Donald Light, Lorry Lokey visiting professor at Stanford University, California and a professor of social medicine in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, re-examined research previously used to demonstrate US firms' superiority in innovation.  

Light believes that Europe would be seen in a stronger position if key data, such as new first-in-class and orphan drugs launched here but not in the US, were included in calculations. He also points out that new chemical entities (NCEs) are assigned to the country in which the launching company is headquartered – for 12 of the 20 biggest companies this means the US. If they were attributed to the country in which the actual research was carried out, then Europe's standing would be higher.

Evidence of strong research in Europe, where drugs prices tend to be lower than the US, counters the argument that high prices for patented drug are necessary to fund R&D. 

Light also expresses the view that, too often, performance against placebo is used to justify bringing NCEs to market. He calls for incentives for companies to develop drugs that demonstrate real advantage over treatments already on the market.

1st September 2009

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