As companies begin their fourth-quarter tabulations, Deloitte and Thomson Reuters took their third annual look at industry’s R&D-ROI balance and found that things are…OK—could be better, could be worse. The firms did not name names, but assessed the industry’s financial success based on 12 companies, of which 10 showed net gains in their pipelines, and five “reported net commercial success.”

Among the study’s findings:

  • The cost of developing pharmaceutical assets has been relatively flat, rising bout 4% between over the past two years, from just over $1 billion in 2010 to over $1.1 billion in 2012.
  • The industry’s seen a jump in approvals, with 41 between 2011 and 2012, up from 32 between 2010 and 2011.
  • Although the approvals have been on the upswing, the projected value has not kept pace. Researchers said the 41 approvals in the 2011-2012 season amounted to $211 billion in projected sales, down from the $309 billion in forecasted sales of the 32 items approved the year before.
  • The 12 benchmark companies haven’t been able to reduce the number of failed projects, and researchers wrote companies can reduce financial “leakage” by leaving projects earlier in the development process than waiting until later. Researchers also recommended repurposing failed compounds as a way to recoup  losses.

The proposed solutions cover familiar ground for the industry and its observers and include seeking out innovation from external sources, cultivating prescriber/payer relationships, create early-stage analysis and risk-sharing partnerships.