Regulations Causing Innovation Failure

February 11, 2011
Stephanie Sutton
Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

According to the UK's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the closure of Pfizer's UK R&D facility, announced last week, is part of a long-term decline in drug development that is affecting all major UK pharmaceutical multinationals.

According to the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the closure of Pfizer’s UK R&D facility, announced last week, is part of a long-term decline in drug development that is affecting all major UK pharmaceutical multinationals. The ESRC blames the decline on “failure of innovative drive in the industry, failure of the UK to support basic research, failure of venture capital to invest in early stage research, or failure of the Health Service to provide smart procurement”.

In particular, the stunted innovation has been attributed to the “lengthy and expensive regulatory system”, according to an

ESRC press statement

. Although regulation impacts all products developed by any industry sector, it is significantly felt in the pharma industry where it affects overall company strategies, which companies succeed and fail, and, ultimately, the entire structure and dynamism of the sector as a whole.

According to research by the ESRC’s Innogen centre, the pharma industry is approaching a “tipping point” in the not-too-distant future in which innovation will no longer be sustainable. However, “radical reform” of regulatory systems could help to better ensure a productive and profitable pharma sector — both globally and in the UK.

“We do not need less regulation, but smarter regulation that can deliver expected standards of safety and efficacy, and that is flexible enough to respond to new scientific discoveries and do so more efficiently than our current systems within a shorter timeframe,” Professor Joyce Tait, Director of the ESRC's Innogen Centre, said in the statement.

ESRC believes that radical regulatory reform for the life sciences industries should be a priority in discussions regarding the industry’s future. “Reform could provide the lever to profitably unleash the creativity that has been so effectively generated from public funding of basic science, leading to something closer to the innovative performance that we have seen in information and communication technologies over the past twenty years,” said the ESRC.

www.esrc.ac.uk

A related PharmTech blog about the effect of the Pfizer plant closure on the UK can be read here.