|Year : 2005 | Volume
| Issue : 5 | Page : 342
IJP, JIPMER, Pondicherry - 605 006, India
IJP, JIPMER, Pondicherry - 605 006
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Singh J. Innovation. Indian J Pharmacol 2005;37:342
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The process of drug discovery has seen many transformations. In the post World War II era, medicinal synthetic organic chemistry and pharmacology were the prime drivers of pharmaceutical innovation which in turn fuelled a highly successful and profitable industry. Medicinal chemists made structural analogues of known and newly discovered active molecules with the objective of mimicking their functions which were then optimised for therapeutic use after a long drawn out process. This "me-too" approach became unsustainable because of newer discoveries in the disease process. Molecular biology and genetics emerged as the main disciplines that stimulated the process of drug discovery, which by now had shifted its focus on curing diseases rather than providing symptomatic relief.
This new concept of drug discovery has yet to deliver. The discovery of virtually thousands of potential new disease targets, the use of combinational chemistry and high throughput screening has not resulted in a proportionate rise in drug discoveries. The productivity of pharmaceutical companies is on a downswing whilst its costs on research have escalated. This disillusionment with the situation and its economic connotations has understandably led to a situation where the industry has been forced to reinvent itself in order to adjust to this paradigm shift. The focus of these measures is the urgent implementation of innovative practices.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a representative body of research-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in the USA launched www.innovation.org dedicated to "discuss and learn about pharmaceutical innovation". The website aims to "provide space for exchanging ideas on pharmaceutical innovation", raise awareness on "critical issues" and inform about the current challenges and future of drug discovery.
The website has a corporate look and feel, a sunny logo, images of serious researchers, happy patients and statements on the potential of the pharmaceutical industry. Innovation is the all-pervading word.
The "Story of innovation" traces the transformation of a chemical to a therapeutic entity. It describes drug discovery, pre-clinical, clinical and review stages and how over ten thousand potential compounds ultimately result in a single useful medicine after a fifteen year journey-the time it takes for a newborn to reach high school. An interactive timeline enables one to travel through a century of pharmaceutical discovery, starting from 1900 to the present. Medical advances in R&D are highlighted and regularly updated with the latest New Molecular Entities approved by the FDA. Researcher stories take a behind-the-scenes look at successful innovations and the scientists who have been instrumental in achieving them. There is a page expressing the viewpoint of the Pharmaceutical industry and its concerns on the increasing costs of drug discovery, stringent regulations and need for optimising various resources. A case favouring "me-too" drugs is made out under the heading of "incremental innovation".
The "Impact of innovation" section begins by comparing the influence of newer medicines on the outcome of diseases. The successful use of cures for lipid disorders, peptic ulcers, rheumatoid diseases, polio, leukaemias and the discovery of newer drugs for Alzheimer's disease and HIV/AIDS, are highlighted. Actual stories of patients are given as examples of innovative practices in achieving cures, reducing costs and improving lives by the use of newer medicines.
The "Future of innovation" begins by explaining the impressive inputs that constitute drug research and development. Changing modalities of research in face of the mapping of the human genome, molecular techniques and effective innovations are explained. Incorporation of newer disciplines and techniques namely nanotechnology, personalised medicine, pharmacogenomics, proteomics, gene therapy, molecular targeting, biomarkers, biologics into drug discovery are also briefly described. A link to a "New medicines in development" database has a searchable disease-drug and company fields for most recent innovations. The Data centre hosts a number of fact sheets and news features on various aspects of innovation.
Any information originating from the monolithic pharmaceutical industry is always fraught with suspicion because of the overt emphasis on profit and propaganda. Innovation.org however tends to showcase a more humane and positive face of the industry. It tends to clear some myths and explains the stand of the industry in terms of research and newer developments; it also shows a caring and responsible facet which talks of societal responsibility and working in tandem with the government.
Researchers, students, consumers and those seeking to gain an insight into the working of the pharmaceutical industry will find this website an excellent resource.
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