The drug development process is one of the most complicated aspects of the pharmaceutical industry, especially when looking into it in detail. In theory, it sounds straightforward, like most multi-step processes do. But when it comes to creating solutions to diseases, even breaking it down doesn’t simplify things as much. As difficult as it is, we tried our best to section the long process to define each step and look for ways for groups in the pharmaceutical industry to get the most from all of the different stages.
After identifying a disease that needs a solution, the first step into developing a potential drug is research and development, commonly referred to as R&D. As the name suggests, the first crucial step is to research the disease, and how it progresses. Then, the team must start looking into what kinds of molecular compounds might work towards creating a product that will reverse or stop the effects of the newfound disease. Candidate molecules are optimized, then narrowed down until finally, the final molecular compounds that the researchers land on are tested. During this step, researchers need to also keep in mind how the molecular compounds that they study and choose are going to be developed into a tangible medication for consumers. This means that in addition to discovering the potential benefits and mechanism of action that the drug will take, there should be an extensive amount of research that will help developers later determine the best dosage and intake method. During the development part of this process, researchers need to consider how the new drug might affect people in the long term, which can be difficult without actually having the time or resources to look into these effects. In addition, the development process is where companies look more deeply into and start testing various amounts for dosages, as well as how the new medicine should be taken.
The biggest issues when it comes to research and development are the time and costs that are spent during this part of the process. And, as time moves forwards, these costs have been steadily increasing; in fact, according to Jack Scannell, a consultant and researcher in the drug development industry, costs have doubled approximately every 9 years. The biggest factor to these heightened costs is the inclusions of costs for drugs that failed in development; in other words, pharmaceutical companies have to account for the costs for drugs that failed before the final result during research and development.
In order to reduce operational costs during the R&D process, it’s crucial for drug development companies to learn how to be more efficient during this stage. This is even more crucial when considering that oftentimes, companies have to account for the costs of failed products as well; to minimize these costs as much as possible, the best solution is an increased efficiency when starting the initial research and development of potential drugs. Pharmaceutical organizations can use various strategies to streamline the R&D process and thus have lower costs. One strategy that companies have been using is outsourcing parts of their research and development processes to lower-cost centers, allowing them to reduce the costs of certain aspects of research while still being able to focus on the innovation of a new drug. Similar to outsourcing, companies can also choose to partner with other groups, which can be done in a few different ways. For example, a drug developing team can partner with a different company within the industry to divide the work that might be too difficult for a single team to complete alone. Another way that teaming up with different groups might be beneficial is a partnership that is outside of the industry. A great resource that pharmaceutical companies can and should take advantage of when possible is big data, which streamlines complex business processes in the life sciences and pharmaceutical industry. Big data analytics can help to build predictive models, eliminating the time, money, and resources that it would usually cost to retrieve that same information through direct experiments.
By implementing various strategies, pharmaceutical companies can lower the amount of time and money that they put into the initial stages of developing a drug. When companies have the capacity to save resources on more basic parts of research, they are able to focus on the task at hand, which is developing a safe and effective medicine that will help combat and reverse the effects of a new disease. In addition, by minimizing the total costs it takes to develop the drug, it’ll require a smaller price for consumers while still allowing the company to maximize profits.
Last but certainly not least, the pharmaceutical company needs to start thinking about a rough marketing strategy during this stage. Of course, it may seem too early to create ideas for advertising the drug when it hasn’t even been approved by the FDA, and the day the product hits shelves seems far away, if it will ever happen. However, starting to think about marketing after FDA approval will be far too late. Thus, pharmaceutical marketers should collaborate with researchers as the drug is being developed. One obvious step is for marketers to start researching the market landscape for the drug; in order to persuade physicians and patients to use the drug that you are developing, you must know what you are up against. How are physicians helping patients who are currently dealing with the condition or disease that you made the drug for, and how is your product better than any current alternatives that are already being used? Most importantly, pharmaceutical marketers should always be thinking from a patient-centric point of view.