Pharma not the place for drug discovery

by reestheskin on 10/02/2016

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Martin Wolf, the influential economist, wrote in the FT sometime back that the public might soon view pharma companies in the same way many viewed banks (or at least bankers). Here is a news item from today’s FT.

A number of Pfizer scientists have told the Financial Times that they fear the company will move closer to the Allergan approach and step back from discovering new drugs, putting their jobs at risk.

Dr Mikael Dolsten, president of worldwide research and development at Pfizer, said he was aware of the unease but that the combined company would occupy a “sweet spot” in R&D.

Further on:

Brent Saunders, Allergan chief executive, has questioned the efficiency of discovery research conducted by big pharma groups. In an interview with the FT last year, he argued that smaller companies and academic centres were better suited to this sort of science.

Since then, he has modified his position somewhat, arguing that drug discovery has a role at big pharma companies, providing it is has a high chance of success and is targeted at illnesses where the company already has a strong selection of drugs.

This is all about the merger between Allergen and Pfizer. The arguments may be more nuanced than I want to believe, but this is what happens when ‘financialization’ becomes more important than invention (and long term value). Lets just call it: the no James Black syndrome.

And can we please skip the dreadful ‘sweet spot’ terminology.