Biopharma: Innovating to extinction?

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association examines an increasingly problematic phenomenon in pharma: "innovation to extinction." In short, the better pharma companies do their job, the more difficult it will be for companies to create innovative therapies, particularly for well-treated populations. The Wall Street Journal points to an extremely successful drug study in the 1980s that lowered heart attack mortality rates from 13 percent to 8 percent. But what was considered a fantastic outcome in the 1980s would now be looked upon as a disaster, as most heart attack studies cut mortality rates to 4 percent.

Drugmakers have taken varied approaches to dealing with the innovation dilemma. Some companies have turned their sights to rare or underserved diseases that have few treatment options. Others are changing what outcomes they look for in trials. For some studies, drugmakers have moved away from single endpoints to examine composite endpoints or surrogate endpoints. As the JAMA researchers note, drugmakers' move toward different endpoint measurements are an indication of the industry's maturation--and the increasing difficulty of developing new products for common diseases. 

- read the WSJ article