R&D progress on the rise

Words by GOLD newsdesk

Pharmaceutical R&D saw sustained growth in clinical trial activity and a record number of novel active substances launched in 2021, according to a new report from IQVIA.


The 'Global trends in R&D 2022 – overview through 2021' report highlights the “record-breaking pace” of pharma R&D over the past year despite the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Some 5,500 new planned clinical trials began in 2021, up 14% on the number seen in 2020 and 19% more than 2019. Progress was also made in product development, with a record 84 novel active substances launched globally in 2021, double the number seen in 2016. What's more, the total number of products in active development exceeded 6,000 – up 68% from 2016 – suggesting that this success may be sustained in the coming years.


Of the 84 novel active substances (NASs), 72 were launched in the US, 44 were deemed to be first in class by the FDA and 40 carried an orphan drug designation for patients with rare diseases.


Commenting on the “astonishing achievements of the global life sciences industry”, Murray Aitken, IQVIA Senior Vice President and Executive Director, IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, said: “This activity reflects the strength of the global biomedical innovation system to discover, develop, and secure regulatory approvals for new therapeutics... Stakeholder efforts to accelerate innovation and bring scientific breakthroughs to patients faster and safer is an enduring feature of the post-pandemic, R&D landscape.”