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Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
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Big Pharma Blames Its Troubles on Scientists
15 April 2009 6:56 am
At a big pharma conference yesterday, Merck & Co.'s chief strategy officer, Merv Turner, laid the blame for industry woes squarely at the feet of researchers. The basic problem is the low success rate in identifying new drugs: "Seventy-five cents of every dollar we spend on R&D goes to fund failure," he told an audience of execs and dealmakers at Windhover's Pharmaceutical Strategic Outlook meeting in New York City. Creativity and risk-taking remain essential, Turner said, but the scientific fruit must "come at a lower cost," though he didn't explain exactly how greater efficiency might be achieved.
But he allowed that Merck is going through a "painful" restructuring of its research divisions. The company agreed to take over Schering-Plough last month; this may add duplicative staff.
A prime target for trimming is late-stage drug development, where the most research money is spent and lost. But a slim-down in more basic discovery isn't out of the question. "Nothing's safe from cuts" these days, Turner told ScienceInsider. Merck, like other drugmakers, is turning to smaller companies for help, licensing in more drugs than ever. But Turner said "a strong internal research function" is still essential.