Global credit crunch threatens discovery of new drugs

October 27th, 2008 - 1:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 27 (IANS) The current global financial crunch could nix the discovery and production of many new life-saving medicines, experts have warned.Investment into research for new drugs - which runs into billions of dollars - is now seriously under threat as former investors in pharmaceuticals are shying away as a result of the meltdown.

David Wield, director of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Edinburgh-based Innogen Centre, delivered a stark warning prior to the gathering of over 200 experts at conference in London, an ESRC press release said Monday.

Wield said: “Investing in biotech companies is now seen as risk-taking, and will not be for the timid. What will happen to investment in biotech research if finance cannot even be found for relatively everyday expenses which are increasingly becoming more of a struggle?

“Drug discovery depends on long-term finance with high risk of failure - and lots of it. Financing of biotechnology companies hit $50 billion in 2007. And overall, these biotechs only made profits for the very first time last year, amounting to $1 billion on revenues of $59 billion.”

Development of medicines by pharmaceutical companies has also been hit by the credit crunch, said Wield.

“As a result, big companies have been laying-off staff and closing down research units, instead looking to biotechnology start-ups for new ideas,” he added.

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