A longitudinal perspective on innovation

November 13, 2023
Clinic corridor in a hospital

There is growing interest in the innovation process in the biopharmaceutical industry, with particular public scrutiny around the composition of research and development (R&D) spending and the role of intellectual property. This process is commonly characterized as involving a mixture of public and private key players who are responsible for the phased investments in R&D that, in a small number of cases, result in successful medicines that deliver benefits to patients, caregivers, health systems and society. However, how public and private stakeholders work together and the degree to which innovation is a sequential process, with each development building on previous work, is rarely discussed.

This review examines three therapy areas – HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis (MS), and multiple myeloma (MM) – to demonstrate both how important the roles of different key players are and how long it takes for their contributions to develop into new treatments. We use three case study therapy areas to explore the origins of particular classes of medicines and connect the roles of public and private key players in the research phase, clinical development and the subsequent integration of innovations into healthcare systems.

The therapy areas were chosen as they represented infectious, chronic, and oncologic diseases. To chronicle the drug development process for each therapy area, we reviewed the English-language academic and scientific literature. The report aims to describe the key generations of treatment for these three case studies, while recognising that given the complexity of the innovation process and that early-stage research may not always be openly disclosed, we will not capture every potential path pursued or stopped, nor the full set of researchers who worked on a particular issue.

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