The Project Pipeline

Biopharmaceutical R&D is broken down into stages of work as shown below in Figure 1.


Figure 1, Stages of work in Biopharmaceutical R&D.  In Drug Discovery the focus is on the Drug Target, whereas in Drug Development the focus shifts to the drug candidate identified in Lead Optimization.

All projects in the company are expected to go through all of these stages of work.  The portfolio of projects in each of the various stages is called the pipeline.

In the not too distant past the typical project started at Target Discovery in the company and progressed through each of the stages to Approval and Launch within the same company.  Today, the R&D pipeline of bio/pharmaceutical companies is severely challenged by reduced profits from the lack of blockbuster drugs in the market and consequential R&D budget cutting leading to divestiture of core competencies, out-sourcing, in-licensing, and partnerships.  The major bio/pharmaceutical companies are experimenting with virtual R&D. 1

  1. For example, GSK has created a virtual Discovery Performance Unit that must achieve the same goals as a fully staffed DPU but with only a few contract managers –