less so toward the unregulated Internet sector. The end result might be enormous payoffs to human welfare as new drugs and treatments come to market faster.
Dr. Horn discussed several technologies that might lessen regulatory burdens. Many pharmaceutical companies have very heterogeneous databases; it is costly to transfer information across them, and new database technology under development at IBM and elsewhere will address this. Emerging computing technologies will allow computational chemistry to estimate in vivo impacts of drugs. This will not obviate the need for clinical trials, but it will provide regulators excellent data on a drug’s impact in a more timely way.
Dr. Alexander commented that the cost of bringing a new drug to market is between $150 million and $500 million—an enormous barrier to entry. One reason we need such large and costly human clinical trials for new drugs is the incredible genetic variability of human beings. As this variability is better understood through genomics research, it will be feasible to conduct trials on a smaller scale and in a far less costly manner. These advances will not be on-line for another 15 to 20 years, but when they are, the process will be shorter and cheaper.