By David Bornstein
Consider two numbers: 800,000 and 21.
The first is the number of medical research papers that were published in 2008. The second is the number of new drugs that were approved by the Food and Drug Administration last year.
That’s an ocean of research producing treatments by the drop. Indeed, in recent decades, one of the most sobering realities in the field of biomedical research has been the fact that, despite significant increases in funding — as well as extraordinary advances in things like genomics, computerized molecular modeling, and drug screening and synthesization — the number of new treatments for illnesses that make it to market each year has flatlined (pdf) at historically low levels.