Big Pharma, Little Science? A Bibliometric Perspective on Big Pharma’s R&D Decline

25 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2012

See all articles by Ismael Rafols

Ismael Rafols

Ingenio (CSIC-UPV), Universitat Politècnica de València; Leiden University - Centre for Science and Technology Studies; SPRU (Science Policy Research Unit), University of Sussex

Jarno Hoekman

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Josh Siepel

University of Sussex - Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU)

Paul Nightingale

University of Sussex - Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU)

Michael M. Hopkins

University of Sussex

Alice O'Hare

University of Sussex

Antonio Perianes-Rodriguez

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: February 28, 2012

Abstract

There is a widespread perception that pharmaceutical R&D is facing a productivity crisis characterised by stagnation in the numbers of new drug approvals in the face of increasing R&D costs. This study explores pharmaceutical R&D dynamics by examining the publication activities of all R&D laboratories of the major European and US pharmaceutical firms during the period 1995-2009. The empirical findings present an industry in transformation. In the first place, we observe a decline of the total number of publications by large firms. Second, we show a relative increase of their external collaborations suggesting a tendency to outsource, and a diversification of the disciplinary base, in particular towards computation, health services and more clinical approaches. Also evident is a more pronounced decline in publications by both R&D laboratories located in Europe and by firms with European headquarters. Finally, while publications by big pharma in emerging economies sharply increase, they remain extremely low compared with those in developed countries. In summary, the trend in this transformation is one of a gradual decrease in internal research efforts and increasing reliance on external research. These empirical insights support the view that large pharmaceutical firms are increasingly becoming ‘networks integrators’ rather than the prime locus of drug discovery.

Keywords: Pharmaceuticals, bibliometrics, outsourcing, Europe, globalisation, research network, innovation, collaboration

Suggested Citation

Rafols, Ismael and Hoekman, Jarno and Siepel, Josh and Nightingale, Paul and Hopkins, Michael M. and O'Hare, Alice and Perianes-Rodriguez, Antonio, Big Pharma, Little Science? A Bibliometric Perspective on Big Pharma’s R&D Decline (February 28, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2012878 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2012878

Ismael Rafols (Contact Author)

Ingenio (CSIC-UPV), Universitat Politècnica de València ( email )

Camí de Vera s/n, Edif.8E, Univ.Politec.Valencia
València, País Valencià 46022
Spain

Leiden University - Centre for Science and Technology Studies ( email )

Leiden
Netherlands

SPRU (Science Policy Research Unit), University of Sussex ( email )

Brighton
United Kingdom

Jarno Hoekman

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Josh Siepel

University of Sussex - Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU) ( email )

Mantell Building
Falmer
Brighton BN1 9RH UK, Sussex
United Kingdom

Paul Nightingale

University of Sussex - Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU) ( email )

Mantell Building
Falmer
Brighton BN1 9RF, East Sussex
United Kingdom

Michael M. Hopkins

University of Sussex ( email )

Sussex House
Falmer
Brighton, Sussex BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

Alice O'Hare

University of Sussex

Sussex House
Falmer
Brighton, Sussex BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

Antonio Perianes-Rodriguez

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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