Translational Research May Be Most Successful When It Fails

Hastings Center Report 45 (2):39-40 (2015)
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Abstract

In this issue of the Hastings Center Report, Jonathan Kimmelman and Alex London argue that in assessing the success of clinical translation, it is narrow‐minded to focus only on how many new drugs get licensed and how quickly they achieve licensure. Kimmelman and London show that clinical translation should be judged on its ability to generate as comprehensive an intervention ensemble as possible for the tested interventions. I would like to extend Kimmelman and London's position in two ways. First, I would argue that in the current environment, failures should be seen not just as acceptable, but probably as the most useful outcomes that translational research efforts can offer. Second, an intervention ensemble probably cannot be generated with information only about the drug or drugs produced by a single company. For most conditions and diseases, there are already a large number of other interventions whose use is supported or contradicted by various levels of evidence.

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