Thursday, July 01, 2010

spurring innovation in research and development

What drives scientists to come up with new ideas? What inspires people to create, think and produce? Apparently it is NOT the structure of big pharma created in the last ten years by the merger of large companies to create mega companies. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal today the creation of these large companies has actually stifled the investigation of new products..
"Glaxo Tries Biotech Model To Spur Drug Innovations" explains how drug companies are trying to drive innovation by subdividing their research staff into smaller units. They monitor these small units by productivity with the threat of layoffs if people do not perform. It is also their hope to create financial incentives like the start-up biotechs have done in order to create immediate profit/reward for new ideas.

My question about this is whether we can really measure success of innovation by how many ideas are investigated? I would hesitate to measure success by number of products introduced. It is true that the more products you introduce the more likely you are to find one that is successful but it is also true that you can create a more effective drug by more detailed study, research, synthesis and analysis.

I applaud Glaxo for such an effort- identifying what the incentives are for performance is an effective strategy- if what they want is a higher number of drugs in the pipeline.