HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Sunday, July 3, 2005

New Direction for Drug Companies

Today's New York Times has an interesting article on how Eli Lilly plans to develop and market drugs for the future.  They appear to be relying on much of the new data we are learning from the human genome project to develop drugs targeted to an individual's genetic makeup.  The New York Times states,

Drug companies do an awful job of finding new medicines. They rely too much on billion-dollar blockbuster drugs that are both overmarketed and overprescribed. And they have been too slow to disclose side effects of popular medicines.

Typical complaints from drug industry critics, right? Well, yes. Only this time they come from executives at Eli Lilly, the sixth-largest American drug maker and the company that invented Prozac.

From this placid Midwestern city, well removed from the Boston-to-Washington corridor that is the core of the pharmaceutical industry, Lilly is ambitiously rethinking the way drugs are discovered and sold. In a speech to shareholders in April, Sidney Taurel, Lilly's chief executive, presented the company's new strategy in a pithy phrase: "the right dose of the right drug to the right patient at the right time."

In other words, Lilly sees its future not in blockbuster medicines like Prozac that are meant for tens of millions of patients, but rather in drugs that are aimed at smaller groups and can be developed more quickly and cheaply, possibly with fewer side effects.

We will have to see if this strategy works.  I thought that the new genetics might make drugs more expensive because they were so much more individualized but it looks like I could be wrong.  [bm]

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