Can Intellectual Property Save Drug Development?

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Science  26 Oct 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6106, pp. 483-484
DOI: 10.1126/science.1231170

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The imbalance between the roughly constant rate of new drug approvals and the exploding cost estimates of drug development—mostly the cost of failure—has raised concern about the declining productivity of the pharmaceutical industry. Efforts to address the situation have included an investment in human capital—particularly those individuals who can project science across the translational divide (bench to clinic)—and investment in infrastructure, as exemplified by Clinical and Translational Science Awards in the United States and Biomedical Research Centers in the United Kingdom, and an increase in partnerships between academia and industry (1). However, radical reform of the iron rules of intellectual property (IP) worldwide will be necessary if we are to harvest and integrate the efforts of scientists and clinicians scattered across companies, universities, and countries, best qualified to generate new therapies.