Three-fold improvement in Pharma R&D productivity with repurposing

In a recent analysis of the economics of pharmaceutical innovation, Grabowski and DiMasi calculated that out-of-pocket costs for a new chemical entity (NCE) were $1.395bn, compared to the costs for a ‘post-approval’ product of $466m. Accordingly, it may be possible to obtain three repurposed medicines for the investment in one new chemical entity. This is important because high innovation costs are driving increasingly unaffordable drug costs for the healthcare systems of developed countries, not just in the publicly funded European systems, but also now in the USA. In addition, the public interest in new medicines to address unmet medical needs (particularly for the 95% of rare diseases for which there are no approved treatments) requires urgent solutions; such urgency is incompatible with innovation timescales which run slower than disease progression, as so vividly displayed by the debate about providing unapproved medicines for serious life-threatening conditions.