Pills on a US dollar bill

Megafinanzas para la investigación de medicamentos

SEATTLE – Mientras las subas abusivas de precios por un puñado de farmacéuticas ocupan los titulares, un aspecto preocupante de esta historia ha quedado minimizado. Los exorbitantes aumentos de los precios de los medicamentos existentes –genéricos incluidos– no solo están motivados por la especulación extrema, sino también por un profundo escepticismo sobre la factibilidad económica del desarrollo de nuevos medicamentos. Y ese escepticismo está justificado.

Los modelos tradicionales para el financiamiento del desarrollo de drogas tambalean. En EE. UU. y muchos otros países desarrollados, el costo promedio de llevar un medicamento al mercado se ha disparado, aun cuando las patentes de algunos de los medicamentos más rentables del sector ya han expirado. El capital de riesgo se ha retirado de las empresas dedicadas a las primeras etapas de las ciencias de la vida y las grandes empresas farmacéuticas ven que menos drogas llegan al mercado por dólar gastado en investigación y desarrollo.

De hecho –en promedio– solo 1 de cada 10 000 compuestos identificados como potencialmente útiles en las primeras etapas del desarrollo logra finalmente ser aprobado por los reguladores. El proceso de aprobación puede demorar hasta 15 años y, de equivocarse, prefiere hacerlo por exceso de precaución. Incluso entre los medicamentos que llegan a la instancia de las pruebas clínicas en humanos, solo uno de cada cinco logra superarlas.

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