A Transformation in the Making

The economic case for personalized medicine offers a solution to the industry's recent woes.
Apr 02, 2008


Patricia Van Arnum
The sobering news from a recent IMS Health analysis that the US prescription pharmaceutical market grew only 3.8% in 2007, its lowest growth rate since 1961, raises a fundamental question, "What will the pharmaceutical industry do?"

Sidney Taurel, retiring CEO and chairman of Eli Lilly (Indianapolis, IN), offered his vision of the pharmaceutical industry, including the role "tailored therapeutics" will play in the future. Taurel spoke at the Drug, Chemical and Associated Technologies Association's educational program in New York last month.

He said the term "tailored therapeutics" was more fitting than "personalized medicine" because it encompasses not only a targeted medicinal approach, but also a focus and segmentation throughout drug development and commercialization.

A common perception is that the erosion of the blockbuster-drug model and a new business case based on personalized medicine bodes ominously for the bottom line of the pharmaceutical industry. But is this the case? Such a transformation represents a shift from earning a relatively small market share of a very large pie under the blockbuster model to gaining a relatively large share of a more segmented pie with a tailored therapeutic. Given the improved efficacy of a tailored therapeutic, the rate of repeat prescribing and patient compliance may also increase, further creating economic value. Also, the cost of drug development could decrease as a result of smaller, more focused clinical trials, the ability, in some cases, to eliminate unpromising drug candidates earlier in clinical development, overall shorter development times, and the opportunity to develop secondary indications earlier: all a byproduct of more targeted drug development.

Is personalized medicine a viable solution for the pharmaceutical industry? Offer your views on this and other topics at our blog, PharmTech Talk, at blog.pharmtech.com.

Patricia Van Arnum is a senior editor with Pharmaceutical Technology,