Innovation Idolatry

Published on: 
BioPharm International, BioPharm International, July 2023, Volume 36, Issue 7
Pages: 6

If we view a change opposite of one’s interest as antithetical to innovation, we risk losing sight of our ultimate goal.

The topic of “innovation” is an ephemeral, shapeshifting beast. While today the industry envisions concepts such as personalized vaccines or oral biologics, 10 years from now pharmaceutical leaders will have surely moved on to even bigger, brighter, and more compelling technologies.

However, it is because of this continual evolution that innovation, as a concept, holds a sanctified status for members of the pharmaceutical industry. Consequently, any perceived diminution will be challenged with immediate furor. For instance, the Inflation Reduction Act, who’s price controls have received significant pushback from venture capitalists (1), has now resulted in Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, suing the US federal government (2). Similarly, in the Amgen v. Sanofi Supreme Court case, which tested whether broad genus claims were legally permissible (3), both companies’ arguments centered around stifling innovation—just at different steps of the pharma lifecycle.

I question to what end “stifling innovation” can serve as an effective argument when it can seemingly be applied anywhere, to any situation, without constraint. If any proposed rule change stifles innovation, then the industry’s structure will remain status quo; however, isn’t maintaining the status quo itself antithetical to the core ethos of innovation, indeed to that of the very concept of progress itself? Innovation is crucial, and strong efforts to protect it should be made. We should not conflate innovation with simple “change.” However, if we view a change opposite of one’s interest as antithetical to innovation, we risk losing sight of our ultimate goal: real progress.


1. Playter, G. The United States and the Global BioPharma Market., May 18, 2023.


2. Merck. The Inflation Reduction Act’s Negative Impact on Patient-Focused Innovation, Value and Access., June 6, 2023.

3. Wingrove, P. Amgen-Sanofi Patent Case Divides Makers of Antibody Drugs. Reuters, March 27, 2023. ◆

About the author

Grant Playter is associate editor at BioPharm International.

Article Details

BioPharm International
Volume 36, No.7
July 2023
Pages 6


When referring to this article, please cite it as Playter, G. Innovation Idolotry. BioPharm International 36 (7) 2023.