Impact and Value of Innovation

'Innovation' highlighted in greenWhen you hear the word innovation, what comes to mind? Those familiar with the biopharmaceutical industry might answer medical innovation or medical discovery, but for many the word conjures visions of technology: everything from the latest iPhone to artificial intelligence developments. In the coming weeks, we'll embark on a series that explores the many often overlooked facets of the value of innovation. We will look specifically at the value of medical discoveries, and how they fit into our ongoing conversation on the innovation ecosystem.

The value of medical discovery cannot be overstated, but some undervalue the investment in innovation behind that discovery. The failure rate from target discovery to approval of a new drug exceeds 95 percent and the cost per successful drug is significant. In the past 15 years, Lilly alone has spent more than $50 billion on research and development. This low success rate coupled with the high cost makes many investors unwilling to take on a project with such high risk.

Breakthroughs don't happen in a vacuum: innovation is both difficult and expensive. Today, major medical needs continue to go unmet. Recently, Canada, along with other world health leaders, committed to finding a cure or treatment for dementia by 2025. For the past twenty-five years, Lilly has actively researched Alzheimer's and dementia and continues to seek out innovative medicines that will stop or slow this disease. Discoveries necessitate significant investment in research and development and pharmaceutical companies challenge themselves every day to meet these medical needs.

Innovation in the last century led to cures and life-extending medical advances. From 1900 to present day, life expectancy jumped 47 years, thanks largely to medical innovation on everything from diabetes to preventative cancer vaccines. In just the past thirty years, the medical community made unbelievable strides in transforming HIV/AIDS from an automatic death sentence to a chronic condition. By focusing on research and development, we can match and surpass the achievements of the past, creating new life-saving discoveries. I hope you'll join us for this new series and participate with your thoughts and opinions in the comments section.