Through medical innovation, fatal diseases like HIV are now manageable, chronic conditions, vaccines are preventing childhood illnesses, and immunotherapies are helping to fight cancer, said Pfizer CEO Ian Read during a March 23 luncheon at the National Press Club.
Read said basic research funded by the National Institutes of Health is “a critical step” but noted the pharmaceutical industry’s important role in translating those findings into effective treatments for patients, a sometimes-difficult journey that can take 10 to 15 years.
“Developing a new medicine on average costs $2.6 billion,” Read said. “But less than 12% of the potential medicines that make it to phase 1 clinical trials get approved by the Food and Drug Administration.”
The FDA “has been conditioned by society and Congress to be extremely conservative,” he said, adding the agency should take more risks in the drug development process to help speed things up.
Read said market competition – not additional government regulations or price controls – is key to lowering drug prices. He called for federal tax and trade policies that protect American intellectual property and more investment in manufacturing. Such moves, he said, would boost productivity in the pharmaceutical industry, leading to more drugs on the market and ultimately driving down costs for consumers.