Transforming Medicine

April 28, 2011 By Aminda

Where does the future of medicine and medical practice lie? There are plenty of opinions and suggestions but the future looks wide open.

Opening Drug Development

Henry Chesbrough recently provided a grim commentary on the current state of the pharmaceutical industry, where, within the next year, drugs with sales of more than $50 billion are coming off patent.

According to Chesbrough , this significant profit loss is the “logical outcome of a deeper problem, which is that pharma R&D spending has been less and less productive for many years. A study by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America that shows that more and more R&D spending by pharma companies is resulting in fewer and fewer drugs.”

Chesbrough suggests that the industry needs to move away from their dependence on “blockbuster” drugs, which has kept companies from addressing unmet medical needs of smaller patient populations and led them into launching numerous me-too drugs. Instead, by actively scanning the external environment for possible drug candidates that fit their business model, they don’t have to pay the full cost of development from scratch.

Social Diagnosis

While big pharmaceutical companies have been slow to open up, doctors around the globe have embraced collaboration. One example is Cancer Commons, which brings together leading physicians and scientists in each type of cancer to create an open-source wiki-style database that will catalogue the different genomic subtypes of each disease and show how patients are responding to different treatments. Project IV Line brings together current and aspiring medical practitioners to consolidate global medical news and information.

Non-professional communities are just as popular, with sites like Cure Together which has provided a community of 26,000 users who support and inform each other about the medical conditions from which they suffer and the treatments that have brought relief.

It seems that if big pharma could learn some lessons from “little pharma”, and look beyond their immediate they might find the success and sustainability they need.

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