Editor's Corner

Hype and hope

Sidney Taurel, the chairman and CEO of Eli Lilly, recently penned an op-ed piece in which he declared that the drug development industry is being unfairly castigated for failing to live up to the hype surrounding the human genome project. "Neither the earlier hype nor the current scorn" for the biotech industry is accurate, he says. Taurel maintains that there has been amazing progress that exceeded original expectations, citing the development of realistic models of disease progression and the tools to deal with it. "Based on the technological revolution, the medicines of tomorrow will far outperform even the best of what we have today," he wrote.

Anyone even vaguely familiar with the work being done in biomedical research would have to agree with the tone of Taurel's opinion piece. Of course, one reason why there's so much hype about new technologies is that the companies advancing the field often tout their work as a way of gaining investor support. It's hard to get excited about something that may not materialize for 10 years--and that point can often be lost in all the hubbub surrounding a technological breakthrough. There's a balance to be struck here. Reporters in the field will be quick to compare real results against early promises. Probably too quick. But researchers and executives also need to explain that many of the revolutionary new therapies they're exploring aren't likely to advance from animal studies to approved products overnight. - John Carroll