english.prescrire.org > Spotlight > 100 most recent > Therapeutic advance: orienting research for the benefit of patients


Every month, the subjects in Prescrire’s Spotlight.

100 most recent :  1 | 10 | 20 | 30 | 40 | 50 | 60 | 70 | 80 | 90

Therapeutic advance: orienting research for the benefit of patients

Pharmaceutical research is oriented towards the most profitable markets. Most of the clinical trials financed by drug companies do not allow for the best therapeutic choices to be made. In its special edition devoted to "Therapeutic advances that benefit patients", the French non-profit journal Prescrire calls for a reorientation of research.

Most of the clinical trials financed by pharmaceutical companies are not designed to answer the question that is most crucial to quality care: amongst the existing therapeutic options, what is the best treatment option for a given patient in a given clinical use?

Drug companies scarcely have an incentive to compare therapeutic options. They invest little in research and development of treatments for diseases that are widespread in developing countries. Most concentrate on wealthy markets that are in a position to pay. And drugs with intellectual property rights still under a monopoly due to patents or other exclusive rights are sold at prices that are unaffordable for an ever larger proportion of the world’s population.

Systematically organising independent, comparative clinical trials is the only way to arrive at the answers needed for quality care. More globally, promoting research and development of new drugs responding to health needs, especially in developing countries, requires a change of model. The proposed worldwide Convention of the World Health Organization (WHO) is an encouraging avenue which should foster new models of research and development for medicines for the good of patients. The convention should include mechanisms allowing the cost of research to be disconnected from the price at which drugs are sold. The sales price should be set in such a way that drugs are affordable for those who need them.

©Prescrire 1 August 2015

"Des progrès décisifs au profit des patients" Rev Prescrire 2015; 35 (382). View the table of contents (Free, in French)

View the table of contents of
the special issue of French
medical journal Prescrire
Free (in French)

See also:

Research financed
independently of drug
companies: a timely debate
(March 2012)

Corporate influence
over clinical research:
considering the alternatives
(July 2012)

Evaluation of treatment
benefits: endpoints
relevant to patients
Prescrire Int 2008;
14 (98): 260.
Pdf, free