[Editor's Note: We asked selected Xconomists a series of questions designed to zero in on the big issues of the year, including "What would you be willing to throw a punch over?"]
The FDA is the easy target for those of us who are in drug development. But what I am most mad about is the unwillingness of our industry to focus and invest in innovative, high-impact drugs instead of “me too” knockoffs. Thus, my “anger” is focused on institutions that myopically insist on investing in low-risk, copycat ideas that undermine the true strength of our industry over the long term.
Risk-taking and innovation in drug discovery are critical to our field. Aspiring merely to be fast followers instead of striving for innovation is putting our competitive advantage at risk. The entrepreneurial spirit has been key to America’s success in many industries, especially biotech, but there have been several recent events that are stifling innovation.
The downturn in the economy has obviously dampened the financing of new ideas. Changes to patent law arguably encourage long, drawn-out opposition hearings that could be detrimental to the smaller inventor. However, my key concern for our industry is the lack of new and innovative drugs, despite the stunning pace of scientific progress over the last several decades. Not enough companies are focused on innovation and not enough people in charge are taking the right level of risk to actually come up with a new idea that can have a substantial impact on human health. Innovation is the alpha and the omega of our industry and should always be cherished as a way to create valuable and meaningful high-impact drugs.