US report says pharma industry must set itself an ambitious target for drug development

How should the pharma industry go about fixing the shortcomings of its drug development process? Set itself the goal of doubling output of ‘innovative new medicines that meet critical public health needs’ over the next 10–15 years. That is the simple advice of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in a new report.

More specifically, the council recommends: optimising the safety and efficacy evaluation processes of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); enhancing long-term monitoring of approved medicines; and enhancing public understanding of the benefits and risks of medicines.

It concludes that the return on investment in certain disease areas might be too low for any company to justify pursuing, even though the potential benefits for public health might be large. Therefore, it suggests that the Department of Health and Human Services should commission a study to assess the ways in which companies could be encouraged to enter these regions.