EMA chief blasts $60B in wasted R&D spending each year

The outgoing chief of the European Medicines Agency took a moment to do the math on the $85 billion the industry spends on drug R&D each year. And he concluded that the vast majority of the money is simply wasted.

"How many [new drugs] are approved each year-six, seven, eight, nine maybe? If the value of these few new drugs is worth 10, maybe 20 billion U.S. dollars, then where is the remainder of the $85 billion going?" asked Thomas Lonngren, who is wrapping up a 10-year stint at the agency. "Maybe we could use this $60 billion in a better way?"

He's not too happy with the R&D priorities at Big Pharma companies, either. In an interview with Dow Jones in London, Lonngren concluded that reducing the amount of R&D money devoted to CNS therapies is a mistake, especially considering the consequences of a rapidly aging population. And he had some sharp words for big drug companies for pulling out of antibiotics in light of the spread of treatment-resistant bacteria.

One clear warning surfaced in the Dow Jones interview: Lonngren says drug regulators around the world are likely to cooperate more closely in coming years. "The evolutionary momentum of this is unstoppable."

- here's the story from the Wall Street Journal