A New Paradigm for Biomedical Research

February 1, 2005
Peter B. Corr

Applied Clinical Trials

Applied Clinical Trials, Applied Clinical Trials-02-01-2005,

In the biomedical research industry, and at Pfizer in particular, we are committed to what we call "The Three As"-making medicines available, accessible, and affordable.

In the biomedical research industry, and at Pfizer in particular, we are committed to what we call "The Three As"—making medicines available, accessible, and affordable.

Peter B. Corr, PhD, Senior Vice President, Science and Technology, Pfizer Inc.

These "Three As" are closely interconnected. The more therapeutics we make available and the more accessible we make them, the more affordable they become. The whole system, however, rests on the foundation of availability. And availability is a matter of science, supported by business.

Without a doubt, recent discoveries will yield many valuable therapeutics over the next decade or so. But we're at a critical juncture in biomedical science. In a sense, we are the victims of our own success. Science has become such a massive, complex body of knowledge that no person, discipline, institution, or industry can manage it alone.

The technological demands and complexity of today's research methods are just mind-boggling—and expensive. At the same time, a growing array of regulations generates its own costly challenges.

But I am optimistic. In fact, I believe we are on the cusp of a new paradigm of biomedical research, which centers on an astute assessment of medical need, careful assay of scientific possibility, and deliberate partnerships to maximize our use of resources.

I believe the biomedical industry is the organizing force behind this new paradigm, and is the dominant factor in biomedical research today. Yet the complexities, risk, and expense of research demand that all members of the research community coordinate their efforts.

We simply must develop rich networks of partnerships from all over the world—between public and private research organizations, basic scientists and engineers, academia, and the biomedical industry, including both not-for-profit and for-profit enterprises.

We can accomplish much more with less cost and duplication of effort when a variety of institutions and organizations pool and coordinate their resources and bring their special strengths to bear. Clearly, we have begun to recognize that our work is complementary and that the practical, institutional, collegial, and legal structures of these new forms of partnering should begin to take shape.

This new paradigm of biomedical research partnerships will have a huge impact on the Three As. In short, intelligently formed, interactive, cooperative ventures will turn more science into therapeutic discoveries that will change the course of devastating human diseases.

Impediments to access today suggest that we must work as part of a team with national governments, nongovernmental organizations, multinational agencies, medical professionals, patient organizations, academic institutions, and an informed media to build sustainable infrastructures that will improve health conditions around the world. This will provide access and infrastructure to deliver these therapies in regions of the world where this is not yet possible with consistency.

By sharing resources and infrastructures, such partnerships also limit the risk to all partners. With more institutions and organizations "owning" some part of the process, we'll have more avenues to distribute medicine and more people with a stake in its success.

What's more, better coordination between regulators, government agencies, and industry will remove barriers and facilitate further development of needed infrastructures.

Now, what about the third A—affordability? Today, the biomedical industry routinely invests billions of dollars in programs to improve access and affordability.

But let's be clear. The discovery, development, and delivery of biomedical innovation is risky, complex, time-consuming, and very expensive. So, we expect those who can afford to pay for medicines to pay. And for those who can't afford to pay, we will do all that we can to see that they have medicines they so desperately need. For instance, Pfizer Helpful Answers (www.pfizerhelpfulanswers.com) and other programs such as Together RX Access help those without prescription drug coverage every day with access to prescription products.

Sharing responsibilities and risks among a broader group of public health stakeholders enables us to harness our unique skills, capabilities, and capacities to expedite delivery and needed treatment.

With sure hands and wise hearts, we can, together, provide an attainable level of good health care as fairly as possible for everyone on the planet, and bring the light of hope and health to those still groping in the dark.

Peter B. Corr, PhD, Senior Vice President, Science and Technology, Pfizer Inc.