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The Drag of Time on Pharma

Meghan Oates-Zalesky

Post By Meghan Oates-Zalesky

February 20, 2018

The resource of time in the drug development process has many different costs, depending upon your perspective. Considering these costs carefully offers manufacturers opportunities for efficiencies.

For most businesses, pushing their product launch back only hurts them. Typically customers can wait—even if annoyed—until the launch is ready. But pharma isn’t most businesses. Two-thirds of launches fail to meet their objectives and when one of those objectives is their launch date, there are big consequences. Recognizing the efficiency needed for each project and each step in the process is vital to ensure the larger cost doesn’t impact manufacturers or patients.

The Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development estimates it takes $2.6 billion over the course of a decade to bring a drug to market. Ninety percent of that $2.6 billion is the cost of medications that fail to meet their goals. The burden of carrying those medications longer than necessary—due to validation of failure—is potentially an avoidable one with more insight from prescribers and patients. Technological innovations can help drug developers and their contract research organizations (CROs) get this insight and understand better, early on, which medications will mature and which will not—allowing them to reduce the cost burden and possibly some of the time burden.

In terms of that time burden, every minute matters. With 40% of the population likely to get cancer at some point in their lives, cancer literally affects everyone. More than 26,000 people die a year while waiting for an oncology treatment in development to treat their specific type of cancer. Given the pervasiveness of cancer, every minute truly does matter to patients and their loved ones.

Nearly 200 different cancer therapies are either in development or in the market from the top US pharma companies. With new breakthroughs regularly, oncology brands are all competing for marketshare in incredibly volatile markets. An inability to adroitly move in these markets can be devastating to your brand. There is no time for error. The cost is too great.

When considering time and the impact it has on so many areas of drug development, it’s shortsighted to overlook all of the costs impacted by not optimizing time. Time takes many tolls on the process—project slippage, delayed deadlines, unnecessarily maintaining failed molecules, etc.—but under the right circumstances that time can be gamed, automated, or streamlined for the best outcomes both financially and clinically.

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