Life science leaders imagine how to accelerate drug development

Drug development is essentially a long, expensive bet: 90% of drugs fail during clinical trials, goes one of the life science industry’s most oft-quoted statistics. But new ways of identifying and testing therapies, a more precise understanding of disease, and a renewed sense of urgency to address longstanding public health issues could change that dynamic, life science leaders argued this week.

A panel of biomedical experts at the Milken Institute 2024 Global Conference on Monday pointed to recent scientific breakthroughs as examples of what is possible, from the development of mRNA vaccines to the first-ever CRISPR-based therapy to receive regulatory approval. But they cautioned that the pace of future successes will depend on whether the industry can streamline and rethink drug development.

“We have as an industry accepted the notion that this is what it is. Frankly, our good friends in the pharmaceutical industry benefit from that,” said Noubar Afeyan, founder and CEO of venture capital firm Flagship Pioneering. “Going slow and having it [cost] a lot of money favors incumbents.”

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