The myth of the biotech revolution (3/12/2004)

'The article below deals with the fact that in clinical biotechnology much has been promoted but little produced. The authors are quite nice about it though. I think one important descriptor has been neglected, that descriptor is "pump and dump".' - Prof Joe Cummins

The 'biotech revolution' model of innovation underpins a substantial amount of government health, education, science and regional policy. It has created widespread expectations about the rapid impact of biotech. These expectations are not remotely matched by the reality.

The authors have written elsewhere, 'Unrealistic expectations are dangerous as they lead to poor investment decisions, misplaced hope, and distorted priorities, and can distract us from acting on the knowledge we already have about the prevention of illness and disease.'

The myth of the biotech revolution
Paul Nightingale(a), and Paul Martin(b)
Trends in Biotechnology
Volume 22, Issue 11 , November 2004, Pages 564-569

(a)Science Policy Research Unit, Freeman Centre, University of Sussex, Brighton, BN1, UK
(b)Institute for the Study of Biorisks and Society (IGBIS) Room B13, Law and Social Sciences Building, University Park, Nottingham, UK, NG7 2RD

Available online 7 October 2004.

The existence of a medicinal 'biotech revolution' has been widely accepted and promoted by academics, consultants, industry and government. This has generated expectations about significant improvements in the drug discovery process, healthcare and economic development that influence a considerable amount of policy-making.

Here we present empirical evidence, from a variety of indicators, that shows that a range of outputs have failed to keep pace with increased research and development spending. Rather than producing revolutionary changes, medicinal biotechnology is following a well-established pattern of slow
and incremental technology diffusion.

Consequently, many expectations are wildly optimistic and over-estimate the speed and extent of the impact of biotechnology, suggesting that the assumptions underpinning much contemporary policymaking need to be rethought.

Go to a Print friendly Page

Email this Article to a Friend

Back to the Archive