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Executive Summary:

Fast-Fail strategies focus on clearing the development pipeline freeing up resources for more promising molecules.

Fast-Fail strategies are directed at reducing late-stage attrition rather than minimizing cycle time.

Fast-Fail strategies reduce expected development costs.

Fast-Fail strategies increase R&D productivity – the number of molecules launched per US$bn.years

Need Technical Detail?

Read Lendrem DW, Lendrem BC Torching the haystack: modelling fast-fail strategies in drug development   Drug Discovery Today,    


Pharmaceutical development is a risky business.

Less than 1% of molecules make it to market.

And it can take 10 years and a billion dollars to get a new molecular candidate through safety and efficacy testing.

And if at the end of that time the molecule is shown to be only marginally better than the current treatments or there are safety issues with the drug then the molecule may be scrapped anyway.

So finding a molecule that is safe and effective, meets an unmet clinical need and gives a financial return on investment is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

And one way to speed up the search is to simply torch the haystack.

Fast-Fail strategies do just that.

Fast-Fail Strategies focus on quickly clearing the development pipeline of failing or marginal products.

This releases R&D resources to focus on more promising molecules.

In the 1990s, Dr Clare Lendrem and Dr Dennis Lendrem developed a simple mathematical model of the drug development process demonstrating the effectiveness of Fast-Fail strategies.

The full model is still the subject of a non-disclosure agreement but the original model is soon to be published in the journal Drug Discovery Today[1].

They call it the Quick-Kill model.

The Quick-Kill model demonstrates that strategies focusing on rapidly eliminating failing or marginal molecules makes perfect sense.

They show that Fast-Fail strategies are more successful than traditional strategies.

Compared to a traditional organization the Fast-Fail organization:

  • screens more molecules,
  • identifies more marketable molecules, and
  • brings more of those molecules to market than the Current process.


[1]Lendrem DW, Lendrem BCTorching the haystack: modelling fast-fail strategies in drug development    Drug Discovery Today    

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