Yes, and the pace of that transformation seems to be accelerating. Fewer and fewer R01's for research that "might" pay off and is based on daring or off-beat insights or hypotheses based on natural correlations, and more and more for publishing preliminary research that merely requires a few 'increases of n' to turn it into a couple of papers in second-rate journals that few people outside the niche are ever going to care about...
a way to develop a new drug from start to finish in less than the pace of clinical studies. There is
no short cut. There isn't a way to evaluate safety without using live organisms, and that takes TIME.
Therefore, the only end-run around that is to NOT take risks on truly novel pharmacology, because at least if you go with a known winner, you know that the payoff is much likelier to be there in the end. I give you "Xyzal." :sigh:
This fools many people who don't know much chemistry or biology, of course. It's certainly eligible for its own patent.
The problem is that antimicrobial agents in the "same drug class" tend to not necessarily work any better than anything else in that drug class, and eventually we discover that the opposition has been developing better technology while we've been tinkering with the firing pan on our muskets, over here, and granting patents for different trigger designs. So while Xyzal may fool people, an antibiotic clone isn't going to fool a resistant organism that doesn't read DTC advertising.
Really remarkable innovation takes time, and is often serendipitous
to begin with, meaning that the target activity had no real intent to make the discovery to begin with. The sheer scale of the spin-off technologies that came out of government-sponsored programs run by the national laboratories and NASA is mind-boggling, and I find it horrifying to imagine that all of that is ending in my lifetime because of such short-sightedness.
The free-market theory is simply not
a good model for everything. Yes, I'm well aware that this is an opinion. But human history seems to back this idea. Civilizations that value innovation for its own sake
survive longer because they seem to have a greater variety of sources to draw from when facing challenges. The platform is already built, basically, even though there wasn't a reason to build one, therefore it's easier to build atop that platform more rapidly when need arises.