Kalorama’s Anne Anscomb said that with a host of blockbuster drug patents – which account for up to 60 per cent of pharma sales – coming to an end the sector could face losing £30bn (€23.9bn) this year.
She said that R&D (research and development), especially for biologic compounds, is the key to boosting the flagging sector, but with the average development spend dropping on two per cent every year because of the high-risk, low-yield nature of discovery, there are too few new drugs to step into the breach: “The average drug can take 10 plus years to progress from the discovery phase to the clinic, with only one compound out of 10,000 evolving into a viable product.”
And with advancements in biotechnology requiring knowledge of increasingly complex processes and equipment, often “technology and talent [is] not available in-house,” said Anscomb.
In the report titled ‘Outsourcing in Drug Discovery’ - collected through conversations with key industry officials, consultants, and government personnel - she suggests that outsourcing to expert providers, especially those who can help tackle ever problematic absorption issues, is the answer.
She said: “Advances in genomics, combinatorial chemistry and high through-put screening have all contributed to an explosion of new biological targets and new drug leads. However, most pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies do not have the expertise or in-house programmes to fully utilise these novel technologies.
“Thus, in order to keep pace with technological developments and evaluate the usefulness of potential drug compounds more efficiently, companies are turning to outsourcing to increase the efficiency and reduce the overall cost of the drug discovery process.”
She said that outsourcers that succeed are the ones with innovative technologies, which can deliver faster response times to support process improvements.
The traditional function of outsourcing – to cut costs and time – will also boost the biologics market, says Anscomb, because more resources will be freed-up for discovery.