29 Jun 2011   |   News

Number of new drugs hits ten-year low in 2010, as R&D spending fell to $68B

The pharma industry spent less on drug R&D last year than at any time in the last three years and there was a fall in the number of drugs getting approval, and of products in early-stage trials

The pharma industry’s productivity woes continued in 2010, according to the latest data released this week (27 June) in the 2011 Pharmaceutical R&D Factbook complied by the Thomson Reuters subsidiary CMR International.

Only 21 new molecular entities (NMEs) were launched in 2010, a decrease from 26 in the previous year, and the lowest number of NMEs launched in the past 10 years.

And it seems there is no way out of the productivity bind any time soon, because the number of drugs entering Phase I, Phase II and Phase III trials fell by 47 per cent, 53 per cent  and 55 per cent respectively, in 2010. While the pharma industry is currently focusing on in-licensing to fill it pipelines, it turns out that products that have been discovered in house have a 20 per cent greater chance of reaching the market, compared to in-licensed or acquired compounds.

The 2011 edition of the Pharmaceutical R&D Factbook also shows that R&D expenditure continued to drop in 2010, to an estimated three year low of $68 billion. This is in stark contrast to the growth rate leading up to 2008.

The report also highlights that drug success rates continue to show the declining trends of the past decade. In all, 55 drugs that had reached Phase III development were dropped between 2008-2010, more than double the number of phase III compounds that were axed during 2005-2007.

Phil Miller of Thomson Reuters, said high failure rates continue to be of great concern to the industry. “The strategy of big pharma of in-licensing more drugs for development does not appear to be paying off at present.” Miller said there needs to more focus on clearing out weak drug candidates at the earlier stages of development.

Cancer is one of only two therapeutic areas to see positive growth in the number of drugs being developed.

Further information: http://cmr.thomsonreuters.com/services/factbook

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