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Pharma Industry Survey Says Key to Drug Discovery Success Will Be Bioinformatics

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NEW YORK--A report on the pharmaceutical industry released by Pricewaterhouse Coopers this month said that bioinformatics technologies will be a major key to drug discovery success in the next decade.

Pharmaceutical companies where research and development divisions do not "implement the right IT strategies and put the right skills in place will not survive in their current form," the report warned. The analysis was based on the annual reports of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies, global consensus sales forecasts, industry estimates of costs per approved drug, and a Pricewaterhouse shareholder value model.

By 2005 there could be as few as 13 industry giants, predicted study coauthor Steve Arlington, head of pharmaceutical R&D consulting in Europe for Pricewaterhouse. "The next seven years will see a revolution in the way R&D is performed," he claimed.

R&D expenditures for the top 20 pharmaceutical companies has more than doubled in the past seven years, the report stated, but revenues are forecast to grow only 7 percent per year until 2005. To boost revenues, the report said, industry leaders will each need to generate an extra $28.9 billion in sales from new products in the next seven years by launching at least 24 new drugs earning $1 billion-$1.45 billion apiece. The number is more than four times what the industry currently produces, meaning that new drugs must be more innovative or cheaper to research and develop, the report suggested.

Computer tools will be the key to achieving greater efficiencies, the study asserted. "Computer modeling and other emerging technologies will soon provide the tools with which to locate the best targets, develop the best leads, and try them out entirely on screen," it contended. Knowledge management will also become more important. "Increasingly complex clinical trials, collaborations with external organizations, and the growing demand for economic as well as medical proof of success will create more data that must be effectively managed," it concluded.

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