Are drug developers over-relying on genomics?

Over the past few decades, the harsh realities of complex biology have brought back to Earth some pie-in-the-sky projections about the value of genomics in biotech R&D. But the industry still devotes the vast majority of research spending to target-based drug development, an imbalance that could be a factor in Big Pharma's slumping efficiency rates. Delving into the issue, The New York Times Magazine talks to scientists, analysts and regulators who point out that while genomics-based R&D has led to major breakthroughs, most of its poster children are finely targeted therapies catered to small numbers of patients, not broadly useful solutions for big diseases. And the allure, financial and otherwise, of such treatments has relegated old-fashioned drug discovery to the back seat, a trend that has alarmed many in the industry. "We still have big public health needs," the FDA's John Jenkins told the Times. "We're hoping companies don't lose track of the broader diseases, like diabetes, as they pursue genomic science and targeted therapies." More