Sources of Transformative Innovation in Medication Development

Award Year:
Aaron Kesselheim
Pharmaceutical Policy
How can the engine of pharmaceutical innovation in the United States, sluggish now despite substantial investment, be jump-started again? Whether the right pathway involves increased government support of basic research or a transformation of industry product development and clinical trial work, patent law will play a key role. Aaron S. Kesselheim, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., explores a number of questions related to this issue, including how basic, translational, and product-development research combine to create breakthrough drugs and how patent-based incentives facilitate or impede drug development. His project, Sources of Transformative Innovation in Medication Development, will identify the most transformative drugs that have emerged in the past 25 years, examine their scientific origins, and assess the intellectual, social, and financial factors that influenced their development. Dr. Kesselheim also will analyze whether patents have rewarded the most important contributors to new pharmaceutical breakthrough products and test an alternative to the current patent system. His project addresses whether new legal or resource-allocation strategies are needed to reinvigorate pharmaceutical innovation and how possible reforms might encourage drug development, apportion rewards more appropriately, and help contain research costs.