The company I lead, Lilly, discloses its annual R&D spending in audited financial statements every year, like other public companies. Lilly’s number for 2015 was $4.8 billion—part of the $50 billion invested in R&D each year by the members of our industry association alone. That’s more than 20% of all R&D spending by all U.S. businesses. Seen against that staggering total, the proposal to mandate the nearly impossible task of assembling drug-by-drug R&D-spending figures misses the whole point.
Pharmaceutical companies’ R&D feeds innovation from the earliest identification of leads through to clinical trials, real-world data collection and the refinement of existing treatments. It includes the cost of myriad failures—part of every scientific enterprise—along with further research on approved medicines, right up to their patent expirations. Money made on the sale of today’s new medicines feeds all of the indispensable streams in this complex ecosystem.
The key insight is beyond dispute. Developing medicines is risky, expensive and time-consuming, and everyone would be better off if it were less so. Rather than meaningless disclosure mandates, policy efforts instead should encourage whatever can be done, without compromising patient safety, to shave precious weeks off development and regulatory-approval timelines."
For the rest of this article and comments to it, see: