The Obama administration has become so concerned about the slowing pace of new drugs coming out of the pharmaceutical industry that officials have decided to start a billion-dollar government drug development center to help create medicines.
The new effort comes as many large drugmakers, unable to find enough new drugs, are paring back research. Promising discoveries in such illnesses as depression and Parkinson's that once would have led to clinical trials are instead going unexplored because companies have neither the will nor the resources to undertake the effort. Drug companies have typically spent twice as much on marketing as on research, a business model that is increasingly suspect.
The initial financing of the government's new drug center is small compared with the $45.8 billion that the industry estimates it invested in research in 2009. The cost of bringing a single drug to market can exceed $1 billion, according to some estimates.