Drug Companies Ranked By R&D Performance
Merck and Novartis, both regarded as paragons of R&D, are actually laggards. And Pfizer and AstraZeneca, far from sad sacks driven into each others arms by an inability to develop new drugs, are actually average. Those are some of the surprising conclusions reached in a new ranking of the top 22 firms by R&D productivity created by Sector & Sovereign Health and its lead analyst, Richard Evans, a former Roche executive and longtime Wall Street analyst. The ranking is included below.
Evans ranks firms based on five metrics:
- The economic returns of each company’s R&D spending — essentially, how does income now compare to R&D investment a decade ago?
- The number of patents filed by companies for every $1 million they spend on R&D; only patents before drugs hit the middle stages of trials count, because after that some companies file extra patents with an eye toward defending marketed products later.
- How often a company’s patents are cited by other patents or publications.
- A “leadership” index: is the company is leading or lagging in terms of the number of patents it files in particular diseases or types of chemist. Is it #1 or #11?
- And a ranking of internal bias: basically, how good is a company at avoiding “not-invented here syndrome.
“The reason they are so innovative is because they’ve taken a four-cylinder engine and put nitro in it,” he says. A more efficient model is the one adopted by Bristol under Sigal, which focused on bringing in products from the outside (Bristol’s breakthrough cancer drugs came from the purchase of Medarex) and using capital efficiently.
Evans has more work to do if he wants to make this ranking definitive; there are just too many ways to measure research productivity and they all give slightly different answers. But it’s a valuable contribution as we try to figure out the shape of the problem facing drug research and look for solutions.