Of mice, men, academics, industry and drugs
Guessing the cost and time involved in developing a major, new drug is something of a parlor game. Depending upon who’s crunching the numbers (and the numbers themselves), estimates range from $50 million to more than $1.3 billion spent over a decade.
Much less debatable is the conclusion that the process is extraordinarily expensive, lengthy and in desperate need of improvement. Doing so, however, is a monumental task. Modern drug development requires unprecedented partnering these days between academia, which has the intellectual expertise and focus to imagine new therapeutic concoctions, and industry, which has the financial wherewithal and ability to help turn those ideas into beneficial health products.
While supporters can point to success stories resulting from contemporary academic-industry collaborations, critics can equally cite negative consequences, conflicts of interest, for example, that have benefitted the few at the expense of many.
This summer, the Center for Ethics in Science and Technology at UC San Diego is running a three-part series asking ordinary Americans how academic-industry drug development might be improved and society better served.
The first forum, “Academic-Industry Collaborations: Can We All Just Get Along?” took place July 11 and featured Gary Firestein, MD, director of UC San Diego’s Clinical and Translational Research Institute, and Jeremy Barton, MD, vice president of oncology clinical research at Pfizer.
The second forum is slated for August 8, 5:30-7 p.m. at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine at 2880Torrey Pines Scenic Dr. in La Jolla. Patrick Groody, PhD, divisional vice president of research and development for Abbott Molecular, and Richard Schwab, MD, an associate clinical professor of medicine at UC San Diego who specializes in biomarkers for diagnosing and treating cancer, will be the featured speakers.
The third forum is Sept. 5, also at 5:30 at the Sanford Consortium. The speakers will be Charles Burton, MD, a noted neurosurgical spine specialist and ethicist and Thomas Kipps, MD, PhD, Evelyn and Edwin Tasch Chair in Cancer Research, professor of medicine, deputy director of research operations at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.
The forums are open to the public. There is a $10 admission charge (to cover parking and nominal refreshments). Reservations are recommended. For more information, click here for the second forum and here for the third.
All three programs are being recorded and will be broadcast by UCSD-TV.
This is the fifth year of the Exploring Ethics series, which recently concluded the popular Henrietta Lacks series. A new series launches in October with the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s landmark book, Silent Spring.