Medical progress from breakthrough drugs – the source of new therapeutic classes – is widely uncontested, but this is far from true of drugs that embody incremental innovations. With pressures for cost containment over health care spending, their innovative character is barely recognised, and their commercialisation is deterred by public authorities, especially in France.
Such policies run counter to the very logic of technological progress, however. They pay little heed to the therapeutic and economic advantages of incremental pharmaceutical innovation. Paradoxically, they raise risks in the pharmaceutical industry and penalise, rather than promote, the development of future revolutionary drugs.