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Drug Discov Today. 2019 Sep;24(9):1924-1929. doi: 10.1016/j.drudis.2019.06.004. Epub 2019 Jun 21.

Future unmet medical need as a guiding principle for pharmaceutical R&D.

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Business Consulting, Bayer Business Services, Leverkusen, Germany.
Pharmaceuticals, Bayer AG, Berlin, Germany.
Open Innovation & Digital Technologies, Bayer Pharma R&D, Cambridge, USA.
Open Innovation & Digital Technologies, Bayer Pharma R&D, Berlin, Germany.
Translational Sciences, Bayer Pharma R&D, Wuppertal, Germany; University Witten/Herdecke, Witten, Germany.
Open Innovation & Digital Technologies, Bayer Pharma R&D, Wuppertal, Germany. Electronic address:


In pharmaceutical R&D the strategic focus is on addressing areas of high unmet medical need. 'Unmet medical need' is a widely used term in the healthcare sector but a common definition does not exist. The current standard of care determines the current unmet medical need, whereas the future unmet medical need (i.e., the unmet medical need when a new product reaches the market) and the extent to which the unmet need is addressed by the new product significantly impact its value. We have defined six dimensions as key drivers of (future) unmet medical needs of patients in a given setting. In the absence of quantifiable criteria, structured expert assessment techniques, such as the Delphi method, can guide portfolio strategies, especially for early-stage assets.

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