Here's one from the In the Pipeline blog, recounting the uproar in the academic research community over the NIH's plan to open a Translational Medicine center to help move discoveries quicker toward commercialization - based on the debatable assumption that Big Pharma is not acting on all the leads that are available to it in a timely manner.
On the pro side, the NIH program will be successful in helping to move more drugs to market. In fact, there was a recent study published in NEJM that supports the notion that academic centers have been very instrumental in helping to deliver about 20% of newly licensed drugs since the 1970's. So maybe Francis Collins is right and a new translational medicine effort by NIH will bolster even these figures substantially.
On the con side, naysayers lament that medical research can't really be run according to a business timeline and that any effort to do so will result in wasted dollars/efforts that will seriously deplete the NIH coffers for years to come - and effectively produce a demonstrably negative impact on the science in the future.
In the Pipeline cites a Biocentury article that concludes that there is too much tendency among basic scientists to "sell their work" - which simplifies the process from basic discovery to practical cure.
"There is a real danger of over-promising," states Keith Yamamoto, executive vice dean of the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, "Scientists too often take an intellectual short cut.......they just say if you give me money we are about to cure the disease."
Well, let's hope that if the NIH does get the money for the translational medicine center that it will help promote some cures and bring some new therapies to market -- and that this will substantively augment the current Big Pharma R&D model.
But, I'm always reminded by my boss that "hope is not a strategy."
Posted by Bruce Lehr Feb 15th 2011.