The Holy Grail of every big R&D organization on the planet remains finding and developing blockbuster drugs. Breaking into the 10-figure club can be a defining moment in any researcher's career. It may not make it on the tombstone--here lies John T. Researcher, he developed a billion-dollar therapy--but it would be an understandable desire to carve it in.
We all keep score. And keeping a roster of potential big winners has been one of my roles at FierceBiotech for close to 10 years.
Drugs often fail to live up to blockbuster expectations, of course. Physicians and patients turn out to be less enthusiastic than expected, or another therapy comes along that disrupts everything much faster than anticipated. Drug development is long and hard, and it's not always easy to gauge what the future holds.
But before a blockbuster makes it to the market, there's usually a make-it-or-break-it moment or two. If the Phase III data fails to come in as hoped, they'll often be written off as a complete loss. (Though Eli Lilly didn't seem to get the memo.)
The bigger the market, the bigger the trial. Looking over the list of top prospective earners underscores just how expensive it can be to prove a drug is as safe as it is effective. Studies involving tens of thousands of patients aren't unusual. It's no wonder that rare diseases have come into vogue, where a few dozen patients can offer definitive data.