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Pharmaceutical Firms at Cornerstone of Drug Discovery

Reducing private sector spending on drug development will not be more cost-effective

WEDNESDAY, June 25 (HealthDay News) -- Research and development by private sector pharmaceutical companies complements the work of publicly funded research organizations, and they played a crucial role in bringing to market the 35 most important and most commonly prescribed drugs, according to a report published in June in the Manhattan Institute's sixth Medical Progress Report.

Benjamin Zycher, Ph.D., of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research in New York City, and colleagues identified the 35 drugs and drug classes that were the most commonly prescribed in 2007 and/or were cited in academic literature as the most important, and assessed them in terms of private sector contribution to their evolution and arrival on the market.

The private sector was responsible for central advances in the basic science behind seven of the drugs and drug classes, as this was where the public sector made its biggest contribution. However, private sector research was behind the applied science for 34 of the drugs and drug classes, and the development of 28, leading to improvements in clinical performance or manufacturing processes.

"The complementary nature of public and private research carries an important implication: the high rates of economic return estimated for publicly funded pharmaceutical research and development depend in substantial part on subsequent investment by private companies, without which most of the pharmaceutical products offering those benefits would not be developed," the authors write.

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