A report just released by the Center For Medical Progress At The Manhattan Institute indirectly undercuts a favorite theme of plaintiffs in pharmaceutical mass torts.

Entitled “The Truth About Drug Innovation: Thirty-Five Summary Case Histories On Private Sector Contributions To Pharmaceutical Science,” the analysis assesses — and rejects — the argument that most of the important scientific advances that yield new and improved medicines do not result from private sector research, but instead are the fruits of research efforts financed or conducted by public agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health. The paper also indirectly undercuts a favorite plaintiff theme that scientific research undertaken by, or funded by, private industry is biased, tainted, poor science, and not worthy of a jury’s serious consideration.

The study compiled summary case histories of thirty-five drugs and drug classes (a group of drugs used to treat a given medical condition in similar ways) identified in the scholarly literature as important and/or that were among the most prescribed in 2007. The authors’ conclusions:

• the scientific contributions of the private sector were crucial for the discovery and/or development of virtually all of the thirty-five drugs and drug classes examined in this study.
• The companies’ scientific advances included topics within the basic science of biology and disease, processes relevant for given medical conditions, the applied science of discovering compounds that treat particular conditions; and the development of compounds with improved clinical (medical) effects.

In short, almost all of the drugs and drug classes examined in this study would not have been developed—or their development would have been delayed significantly—in the absence of the scientific or technical contributions of the pharmaceutical firms.