Factors & Influences in Drug Development
Herceptin development was hindered and assisted by a number of factors. These factors include, but not limited to: "corporate bottom-lines, intrigue, and indifference; savvy, impassioned, and determined breast cancer patient advocates; and the brilliance and petty jealousies of scientists" (Bazell, 1998). These influencers shaped the development of Herceptin and in some instances saved it from being a lost project.
At one point the drug was shelved after the company Genentech stopped focusing on cancer drug development. The company had experienced other drug failures in this field and disbanded their research staff. Corporate bottom lines shifted focus into less intensive research areas.
Intrigue and Indifference
When media seized hold of the promise of Herceptin this would drive advocates to the cause, however, there was also a great deal of lack of interest from companies and research foundations. This made obtaining funding difficult and would delay trials (Bazell, 1998).
Savvy, Impassioned, and Determined Breast Cancer Patient Advocates
One of the primary driving forces behind Herceptin was the breast cancer advocates. These individuals recognized the potential of the drug and kept placing pressure on the company to research it further. This pressure from advocates likely saved the drug from being shelved permanently (Bazell, 1998). Brilliance and Petty Jealousies Of Scientists The egotism and competition from scientists in development of the drug was both a positive and negative influence. According to Bazell (1998),
One wants to believe that this incessant fighting is in the name of good science. For my part, the scientists seemed to exhibit more selfishness and egotism than one would hope, especially in the development of drugs for life-threatening diseases. But perhaps, in this domain of life-threatening diseases, it is precisely this egotism that accounts for the fact that only the strong survive (Bazell, 1998).
The development of Herceptin is an insight into the issues that surround drug development. It is not surprising that money is a major influencer but there are many unexpected issues such as petty jealousy and even advocates which ultimately drive drug development.
Bazell, R. (1998). HER-2 : The Making of Herceptin, a Revolutionary Treatment for Breast Cancer. New York, New York: Random House.