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Am J Ther. 2010 Jan-Feb;17(1):101-20. doi: 10.1097/MJT.0b013e3181ca7f10.

Private sector contributions to pharmaceutical science: thirty-five summary case histories.


Expanding government purchases of prescription medicines increase the likelihood of public policies constraining prices and/or the formulary choices available to the beneficiaries of government programs. This can be predicted to reduce private sector incentives for the research and development of new and improved medicines. One response to that argument has been the premise that most of the important scientific advances that yield new and improved medicines do not result from private sector research, but instead are the fruits of research efforts financed or conducted by public agencies, the National Institutes of Health foremost among them. This study addresses that argument by examining the development histories of 32 drugs and drug classes deemed important in the scholarly literature along with three additional specific drugs that have figured prominently in the public discussion of the role of the private sector in drug development. We find that for the discovery and/or development of virtually all of the 32 drug classes, the scientific contributions of the private sector were crucial; and the same is true for the three drugs that have received widespread attention. All or almost all of the drugs discussed would not have been developed-or, at best, would have been delayed significantly-in the absence of private sector scientific discoveries. More generally, both National Institutes of Health-sponsored and private sector pharmaceutical research are crucial for the advancement of pharmaceutical science and the development of new and improved medicines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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