Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Lack of Exclusivity Stagnates Drug Science

Eight hundred million dollars is about the pricetag to develop a new small molecule drug. Small molecule means a molecular weight on the order of five hundred or below. The first four hundred million is spent finding a candidate molecule. The second four hundred is spent making sure it is safe by carrying out randomized clinical trials. If there is any industry that will not adopt new technology without assured exclusivity, it is the pharmaceutical industry. They want to get a return on their investment, billions of dollars worth. ScuttleMonkey reports on Slashdot that an excellent cancer drug candidate, dichloroacetate, may never be advanced through clinical trials and into approval because no company can ensure that they will get a return on the roughly 400 million dollar investment that prooving the drug is safe would cost them. This is not just true for dichloroacetate, but also for many of other fantastic compounds. Ascofuranone is capable of treating trypanosomal infections, but it is screwed on two counts. It would be hard for a pharmaceutical company to secure exclusive production and distribution rights, and the paying market is very small.

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