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Commentary

Lowering the Opportunity Cost for Drug Development
David B. Agus, Faster Cures, 5-10-06

Agus offers, from the perspective of a cancer physician and researcher, several reasons to be optimistic about the direction of cancer research. Agus believes that, in the relatively near term future, the search for new cancer treatments will become significantly faster, cheaper, and more efficient as new technologies focus on the mechanistic causes of the disease.

Part of my role as a cancer doctor is to be an advocate and lobbyist to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical (biopharma) companies with regard to drug development for cancer. The most common argument I hear from the biopharma companies is that it costs too much money to develop drugs in many cancer types. In previous years, this response was accurate; cancer was poorly understood and poorly characterized, and this created huge risks for drug development, a cost that could only be overcome by large markets. Thus it was nearly impossible to develop and take to market a cancer drug. Several years ago, we had no suitable rebuttal because the technologies available to examine diseased tissue were crude and our understanding of the disease poor. But today we can argue differently. Today, we can argue that the rapid discovery of biomarkers and biomarker panels will lower drug development costs, allowing more drugs to be developed&151;and fasteróbecause of new or improved technology...


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