Developing A New Drug Is Actually Harder Than Rocket Science

As counterintuitive as it may sound, the more our understanding of science grows, the more the complexity of coming up with new medicines grows, particularly as treatments are increasingly tailored to the unique needs of individual patients. Failure is an integral part of this complex process, with the odds of success being low.

Only 12 percent of drugs entering clinical trials ever making it to patients.

And thousands won’t even make it past the early discovery and pre-clinical testing stages.

For example, in the past 16 years, there were more than 100 unsuccessful attempts to develop medicines to treat Alzheimer’s disease, 96 for melanoma and 167 for lung cancer. During this same period, 3 medicines were approved to treat Alzheimer’s, 7 for melanoma and 10 for lung cancer.

Biology isn’t rocket science. It’s harder than rocket science.

drug development cost
Each living thing is an amazingly complex system and each interacts with other living things in complex ways. That is why discovering and developing new treatment and cures is such a complex and risky undertaking.

On average, it takes more than 10 years for just one medicine to make its way through the entire R&D process. And the average cost to develop just one medicine has risen to $2.6 billion.

Via the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
Top Illustration: Michele Studer, Wellcome Images

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