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After 30 years of biologic-drug advances, the industry and patients still have a lot to learn.
Legendary basketball coach John Wooden advised his players to “be quick, but don’t hurry” to improve their performance on the court. This is sound advice for the bio/pharma industry, also.
In this issue, BioPharm International marks 30 years of publishing independent, technical, scientific, and business information about the biopharmaceutical industry with a look at trends, technologies, and therapies from the past, present, and future. Through the years, the editors monitored advances in biologic-based drug development as the industry progressed from the promise of protein-based therapies to vaccines, fusion proteins, cell and gene therapies, personalized medicines, and other emerging therapies.
The editors also explored the business side of biopharmaceutical development, from the ups and downs of investment cycles, to intellectual property challenges of patent protection, and new legal areas that arise as science pushes technologies into unexplored areas. The publication also watched the regulatory challenges of developing a process, gaining approval for novel therapies, and maintaining good manufacturing practices throughout the drug’s lifecycle.
The editors carefully balanced optimism-or, in some cases, hype-about promising therapies and the reality of the challenges that drug developers face. Every day, we receive press releases extolling the potential of a drug in development. These pitches are part of a process to gain attention for the company or therapy, secure investments, or build partnerships. Sometimes, however, these messages build false hope for patients waiting for needed therapies.
For a patient afflicted with a debilitating or terminal disease, a lengthy drug development and approval process can be frustrating-or a death sentence. They seek hope from any possible treatment. The ability of drug companies to serve these patients is tempered by their scientific knowledge, legal and regulatory restrictions, and limited financial support for ongoing research and development. It is a tricky balance that the industry needs to communicate honestly to patients.
At its 2018 annual meeting in Boston on June 5–7, 2018, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) also celebrated an anniversary, marking 25 years of promoting the evolution of the biotech and biopharmaceutical industries. At the event, speakers recalled milestones in the industry’s development, including ethical questions raised by the public and politicians from scientific efforts such as animal cloning or stem cell research and biotech-fiction fears driven by the movie Jurassic Park.
The past 30 years has seen the biopharma industry witness the emergence of protein-based therapeutics. The next chapter in the biopharma story-cell and gene therapies-brings a new theme, that of providing a cure for disease and conditions. The “cure” word was used multiple times in discussions at the BIO event, presenting a new set of challenges for the industry in the years ahead.
In addition to being quick, biopharma companies and the regulatory industry also need to be smart, be honest, and keep patients at the forefront of all of their activities, not just their press releases.
On behalf of the editors, publisher, and sales team of BioPharm International, I would like to thank the biopharma experts who contributed their objective insight and knowledge to the publication over the years, the editorial advisory board members for their guidance, and the advertisers and sponsors who provided the financial support through BioPharm International’s first 30 years. We look forward to writing the next chapter.
Vol. 31, No. 7
When referring to this article, please cite it as R. Peters, " Be Quick, But Don’t Hurry" BioPharm International 31 (7) 2018.