A Fast Way to Curb Drug Development Costs? Make Failure a Strategy.
When it comes to rapid product development, the high-tech sector is taking the lead. Biotech and pharma companies looking to slash costs, speed drug development, and get products to market ahead of the competition can take a page from the tech-developer’s playbook.
We spoke with Mitja-Alexander Linss, Director of Marketing at Research Solutions, a leading provider of on-demand scientific literature access, about the merit of the ‘Fail Fast’ methodology for biopharmaceutical companies.
What is ‘Fail Fast’?
ML: In the fast-paced technology landscape, many companies adhere to a development philosophy that’s focused on minimizing costs and accelerating product releases. Instead of investing a huge amount of time and money into testing and “perfecting” the product up-front, the company will release a first iteration as quickly as possible—and then continue to make incremental improvements, bug fixes, and innovative updates after the product is on the market.
The Fail Fast methodology is not unique to the high-tech industry, and the application for each use case will vary. But the core concept behind Fail Fast, no matter the industry, is to quickly identify anything that isn’t working, and then use the knowledge gained to pivot in another direction.
Why Does Fail Fast Matter for Drug Development?
ML: The average time to launch a successful drug to market is 10-15 years, with only 9.6 percent approved by the FDA. Drug development failures account for a stunning 75 percent of R&D costs and overall expenditures can be astronomical. A 2014 report by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development estimated the cost of bringing a single drug to market at nearly $2.6 billion.
Pharma and biotech companies that adopt—and adapt—the Fail Fast approach can transform the efficiency of their drug development processes to reduce R&D costs and speed overall success. Given the extraordinary costs, they stand to gain big by detecting potential issues early: not only can they improve effectiveness of drugs in the context of combating diseases or improve patient safety by eliminating adverse side effects; by identifying costly dead ends early, they can pull the plug before costs get out of hand.
What Are the Risks of Fail Fast in Drug Development?
ML: In the high-stakes environment of the pharmaceutical industry, drug development is intended to save lives of patients. Conversely, improper drugs can endanger patients’ lives. A flaw in your iPhone might cause some frustration, but a flaw in a drug or even a dosage level could be fatal.
That’s why the objective of a Fail Fast strategy in drug development is to identify roadblocks long before a drug ever hits the market. In practical terms, that means identifying the right mix of patient populations, targets, and cell tissues before going into large-scale human testing of clinical trials. Most drugs fail in the phase II of clinical trials with a sample size of 100-300 patients, and a successful Fail Fast gets ahead of that.
How Can Drug Companies Implement Fail Fast?
Biopharmaceutical companies need to leverage technology and information early on in the drug development process to be successful with a Fail Fast approach. That includes leveraging automation wherever possible in biomedical research, for instance with finding peer-reviewed sources, using artificial intelligence (or AI) to process information, or conducting experiments in-silico.
At Research Solutions, we are experts in the discovery and access of peer-reviewed scientific literature, and we serve 70 percent of the top pharmaceutical companies. We have put together some useful resources, such as a white paper and 10-step slide deck for research practitioners to get started with a Fail Fast approach. We will also be conducting a webinar on the topic featuring leading industry speakers in June 2020.
Want to learn tangible tactics for applying Fail Fast methodology to drug development—and the top benefits of doing so?
Read the white paper: Fail Fast. Succeed Faster.
- The top benefits of a fail fast methodology
- How to use technology to improve results
- Simple tips for getting started
Respondents who download the white paper, will receive a 10-step slide deck to kick starting a Fail Fast strategy and an invitation to the webinar in June 2020.