Fastest Drug Developers Outperform Peers

Sep 27, 2006

Drugs developed by the fastest companies each gained an average of $1.1 billion in incremental prescription revenue and saved an average of $30 million in out-of-pocket development costs, compared to those of the slowest companies, according to Tufts University’s Center for the Study of Drug Development (CSDD). The study was published in the center’s September/October Impact Report.

 “Speed demon companies—those that perform consistently better across a number of dimensions, earn higher revenues and have lower development costs—implement efficient practices across their portfolios,” said Ken Getz, senior research fellows at CSDD, and coauthor of the study.

 “The study shows that “speed is not a chance event,” according to Getz. “Speedy companies implement activities that have a dramatic impact on development cycles.”

Between 2000 and 2005, the fastest drug development companies were Bayer, Astra-Zeneca, Allergan, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Merck, according to CSDD. Each shortened its development and regulatory cycles by as much as 17 months, compared to average performing drug developers.

The Tufts study also found that:

  • As a group, the fastest third of companies reduced their median development speed by 20% (from 66.5 months in 1994–1999 to 53 months in 2000–2005) and held regulatory cycle times flat at approximately 13 months in the 2000–20005 period.
  • “Speed-demon” companies beat the median overall cycle time more than 83% of the time, in each therapeutic area where they compete.
  • The fastest companies terminate 56% of discontinued projects in phase 1 clinical development vs. 36% for slowest companies.

According to Getz, although the strategies of the fast drug developers vary, all of the companies:

  • Optimize resources
  • Make maximum use of CROs
  • Kill projects sooner, rather than ignore unfixable problems
  • Commit to doing a better job


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