A Tough Pill to Swallow – Drug Discovery INFOGRAPHIC

Pharmaceutical drugs have become a part of our everyday lives, and we don’t often stop to think about how amazing they are. These molecules must affect the targeted biochemical mechanism while not detrimentally interfering with other normal biological functions. It seems impossible that such molecules would exist, but they can be found.

Finding those “magic” molecules and determining how to utilize them is far more complicated than the cliche “needle in a haystack” analogy and far more costly than many people realize. Historically, random trial and error has led mankind to discover some of the more easily obtainable therapeutics that occur in nature. Today, pharmaceutical and biotechnology research has opened the door for the discovery of obscure molecules (synthesized via chemical or biological processes) that are highly specified to interfere with unique biological targets in known disease mechanisms.

The Drug Discovery Infographic

To demonstrate the mega-investments necessary to develop a new drug (or biologic, biopharmaceutical, therapeutic, etc), this infographic “A Tough Pill to Swallow: illustrated guide to drug discovery” visually explains each step in the process while giving the viewer a sense of the staggering amounts of time and money spent along the way.

Disclaimer: time & money invested in each step are not drawn to scale… it’s merely a visual representation of average overall estimates.

Enjoy! and please feel free to share…


[ Note to Mobile/Tablet Users ]

Image may be downsampled on some devices. If it looks bad, try this instead: Drug Discovery Infographic – Mobile

A Tough Pill to Swallow - illustrated guide to drug discovery


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2 replies
  1. Vince Groppi
    Vince Groppi says:

    I like your graphic depiction of drug discovery. Your timeline is reasonable but your numbers are off. I suggest you start a linkedin discussion to get a consensus for cost, failure rates etc.



    • Joel Pinkston
      Joel Pinkston says:

      Thanks Vince! I’ll admit it’s difficult to reasonably estimate the costs of drug discovery since there are so many different therapeutic areas, each with their own efficacy and regulatory hurdles. But in my research I kept seeing similar numbers of around $0.5-$2 billion and 10-20 years as an acceptable “average” cost of drug discovery. The failure rates were also based on common themes I discovered in my research.
      I think a LinkedIn discussion is a great idea. Perhaps I’ll look into that in the future for an updated version, or for more specialized infographics for different therapeutic areas.
      Thanks for your input!


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