The Battle for A Breakthrough

  • by: |
  • 03/26/2007
The next time someone who knows nothing about drug development or medicine blathers on about why drug companies don't just focus on breakthrough drugs should read the article in the NEJM about the quest to find a drug that actually reverses atherosclerosis. The statin focused pathway makes a lot of sense and it not dead despite what you will hear because of the complexity that has been discovered in large part because of the huge wager Pfizer made on the torcetrapib molecule.

The "failure" has, as Dr. Nissen and colleagues, article demonstrates, advanced our understanding. I have been a severe critic of Nissen with respect to his pronouncements on the safety of ADHD drugs, but as this article suggests, his handling of the torcetrapib issue has been thoughtful, responsible and in some respects visionary.

More needs to be written about this unfolding saga -- as well as other struggles to understand the intimate connection between disease, body, molecule, genetics. It might promote the growth of something lack among those eager to issue pronouncements about how companies should run their businesses: humility. As Derek Lowe of has noted, on a good day scientists walk into a lab not knowing what to expect, The NEJM shows that real money is invested on this proposition every.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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