Processing Magazine

Are US drug makers more innovative than their European counterparts?

August 26, 2009
The answer is yes. According to a 2006 paper published in the journal Health Affairs that examined the number of first-in-class medicines that were brought to market by U.S., European and Japanese pharmaceutical and biotech companies from 1982 to 2003. But considered another way — How much innovation do you get for each dollar of R&D? You get a different answer, according to a recent paper published on-line at Health Affairs today, reports the Wall Street Journal. The author of the study, Donald Light, an academic doctor who just started a visiting professorship at Stanford, reanalyzed the data from the 2006 paper by controlling for the size of companies’ investment in research and development. All other assumptions remained unchanged from the original study, said Light. Light found that U.S. companies actually discovered fewer new drugs than you’d expect, given their proportion of R&D spending. Europe brought more new treatments to market than would have been expected from its proportion of R&D dollars. And Japanese drug makers were the most productive, according to the reanalysis.