There are a number of good articles on the ongoing problems with developing new drugs, but this one leaped out at me. In particular, check out the logarithmic decline in new drugs brought into use per billion $ of research and development funding:
There are some facts not shown in the graph that need to be pointed out. First, the number of new drugs (NME’s in the graph) that have appeared each year has risen from an average of around 15 in the 1940’s to around 25 now. At an average of 20 per year, we have well over 1,000 new drugs that did not exist in the 1940’s. But the effectiveness of research in dollar terms has fallen by a factor of around 100 or so, after inflation, meaning that we are spending more than 100 times as much each year, to achieve not quite double the output of new drugs today.
Very sobering stuff. I need to get back to work on my book!