State of the Biomedical Research–Not So Good for Pharma R&D

Exerpt from From Science News

Pfizer’s R&D budget, $9.3 billion in 2010, will drop to less than $8.5 billion this year and to between $6.5 billion and $7 billion in 2012, and the company will stop funding research in internal medicine, allergy and respiratory diseases, urology, and tissue repair.

In fact, the pharmaceutical industry as a whole faces financial pressures, as companies are producing fewer new drugs than in the past. In these conditions, even highly promising research has gotten the ax; in November, Roche cut its RNA interference research unit after spending $400 million over 3 years.

Drug companies also seem less wary nowadays about outsourcing. Among other examples, Eli Lilly began outsourcing animal toxicology studies in 2008, and Wyeth (purchased by Pfizer in 2009) began out sourcing data management for its clinical trials in 2003. In 2007, AstraZeneca even decided to move the production of many active pharmaceutical ingredients—perhaps the core activity of a drug company—to China.

These downsizing events are not particularly caused by still depressed economy, they have more to do with industry-specific patent expiration and productivity issues with large pharmas. What does it all mean to current graduate students and postdocs? Perhaps an even tighter job market than now for starting researchers for some years to come until the next round of sea change comes around. Be aware of what’s going on in smaller, more productive, and focused biotech companies.

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Thursday, February 10th, 2011 State of Research

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