Dollars and Jens
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Drug Discovery and Diminishing Returns
Derek Lowe is discussing diminishing returns to investment in the pharma industry. I particularly liked this anecdote:
A special case, perhaps, is Alexander Fleming. One time in his later years, he was being given a tour of a more up-to-date research site, and someone exclaimed "Just think of what you might have discovered here!" Fleming looked around at the gleaming work surfaces and said "Well, not penicillin, anyway."
He continues, though:
I'm not arguing for poverty. I think that a certain minimum level of funding is necessary for good science - below that and you spend too much time in grunt work, the equivalent of digging ditches with kitchen spoons and mowing the lawn with scissors. But once past that, I don't think the correlation of budget and results is all that good. There's perhaps a broad trend, but nothing you'd want to stake your career on.
He offers explanations, too.

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