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End Point: A Costly Cause

Our sister publication, Pharmafile (in its spring 2017 edition), listed the predicted top 50 selling products in the world in 2022. I was astonished to note that the vast majority of these products are biotechnology-based products rather than traditional molecules. Fewer than 10 small molecules feature on this list. In a separate article, Pharmafile discusses the world of $100,000 products and how this will impact on the future of healthcare. If you examine the list of these drugs a little further, you will note that the majority of them are not for rare conditions, but unusual ones. I remember that while working for the agrochemical industry, a development scientist at one of the leading US companies told me that, if the new pesticide did not work on corn or cotton, it would never make economic sense to develop it. In the same group, a farmer who grew courgettes said ‘What hope have I got for the future then?’ The pharmaceutical industry is not yet in this parlous condition, but it may be that the era of the blockbuster is ending and precision medicine will take its place.

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Dr Graham Hughes
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