Study suggests virtual drug tests could cut development time by two-thirds

6/20/2008

PARIS Drug companies may soon have a way to examine the effects of new drugs before testing them on people.

Existing technology could lead to the development of a “virtual man,” which would allow scientists to use computers to predict how new drugs will affect the human body, thus cutting research and development time by two-thirds within 12 years, according to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Drug makers face a problem: Patents on drugs released in the 1990s will soon expire, leaving larger companies more vulnerable. At the same time, four out of the top 10 companies have enough products in the market to make up for the deficit, according to PwC.

Virtual man technology, already under development at universities, would use models of human organs to simulate the effects of molecules. Though drugs will still need to be tested on real people, simulations would cut costs by reducing the number of patients needed.

PwC released the report, titled “Pharma 2020: Virtual R&D, which path will you take,” on Friday. PwC provides industry-focused tax, advisory and assurance services in 150 countries.

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