Study: Europeans beat Yanks at the R&D game

If you asked just about any biopharma exec on this side of the Atlantic if U.S. developers are more productive than their European colleagues, chances are you'd get a good laugh. Everybody knows that the Yanks are more productive than the Europeans, right? 

A new study, though, might have you rethinking that bit of common wisdom. Stanford Professor Donald Light decided to take a second look at the data in a 2006 Health Affairs report which concludes that the U.S. developers did indeed bring more first-in-class drugs to market in the 21 years leading to 2003. Light found that if you looked at productivity based on R&D dollars spent, though, the Europeans actually come out ahead. The most productive based on R&D investments: The Japanese.

"It would appear that American research provides poorer value," Light concludes in a Wall Street Journal piece. U.S. research productivity has been "low and flat in proportion to the large company investments in R&D, while the number of major new drugs credited to Europe is high and increasing in proportion to company investments. Why is American research performance not better?"

- read the story in the Wall Street Journal