DRG uses cookies to improve your experience on this website. Some of the cookies we use are essential for parts of the website to operate. Please be aware that if you continue without changing your cookie settings, you consent to this. For more information on our use of cookies, please review our cookie policy.

Research & Reports

Searching in Biopharma (1575)

R&D Trends: Will Pharma’s Investment Deliver?

R&D productivity has been on the decline in recent years, in part because of an explosion in potential drug targets in the absence of associated technologies to provide target validation and lead optimization and in part because the easy drug targets have all been exploited. The remaining unmet need being targeted today is less understood (mechanistically speaking) and thus much more challenging in terms of drug development.

An analysis of leading pharmaceutical companies’ current R&D efforts gives us a window into the future of the pharmaceutical marketplace. Some of the most active areas of Phase II and III development are oncology, anti-infectives, CNS drugs, musculoskeletal/pain drugs, and respiratory drugs. However, based on current R&D pipelines, we project either minimal or negative growth over the next several years from those companies that have consistently spent more than 20% of their ethical drug sales on R&D, underscoring the difficulties that companies are facing (e.g., generic erosion, declining reimbursement, saturated markets). To remain competitive, companies must be smarter and more efficient in their R&D spending.

Questions Answered in This Report:

  • Today’s pharmaceutical R&D efforts will contribute only modestly to global forecasted 2019 sales in most therapeutic areas in the major pharmaceutical markets, reflecting companies’ ongoing struggle to maintain R&D productivity and compete in an increasingly cost-sensitive market. What are some strategies for improving R&D efforts? Will “mega-blockbusters” cease to exist?

  • The top 25 pharmaceutical companies account for approximately 70% of the global market for ethical pharmaceuticals. However, many of these companies experienced negative growth over 2011-2012, largely as a result of lost revenues from patent expiries of major drugs. Will top companies be able to fill this void with new drugs? What do R&D pipelines look like? Which drugs are expected to be most successful by 2019?

  • Therapeutic areas with high failure rates are typically either the most high-risk/high-reward areas (e.g., oncology, neurology) or the areas where markets are near saturated with safe and effective alternatives. Which companies have experienced major Phase III setbacks in recent years? What are strategies to reduce late-stage attrition?


Companies: Top 25 pharmaceutical companies.

Global sales: 2012, 2019, top 25 pharma, top 100 drugs, therapy area.

R&D: therapy area, technology type, R&D investment.