Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Pharmaceutical research and development

Drug development: Innovation or imitation deficit?

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 04 September 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5880
  1. Steven G Morgan, associate director1,
  2. Colleen M Cunningham, PhD student2,
  3. Michael R Law, assistant professor3
  1. 1Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z3
  2. 2Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA
  3. 3School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia
  1. morgan{at}

Light and Lexchin argue that the pharmaceutical innovation crisis is a myth.1 Although they correctly diagnose the issue, the drug approval data provided tell only half of the story. To shed more light on drug development trends, we classified US Food and Drug Administration approvals of new drugs (therapeutic new molecular entities) into one of three mutually exclusive categories: first-of-kind drugs to be approved within chemical or …

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