Neighborhood Health Series: How Are Medicines Found, and Why Do They Cost So Much?

January 10, 2018

Have you ever wondered how medicines are found and why they cost so much? On Thursday, January 18 at the Roseman University Summerlin Campus you will have these questions answered. Join us as Dr. David Rawlins, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Roseman’s College of Pharmacy, talks about the unique perspective he has had inside the world of drug discovery and clinical development at several pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Rawlins will talk about the drug discovery process which includes basic scientific research, identification of lead molecules for drugs, and optimization of the lead. He will also discuss the drug development process which involves large scale production of the drug and clinical trials to demonstrate effectiveness. Using personal experiences, including the story of a new drug just finishing clinical trials and headed to the market next year, he will discuss the time and cost for these processes and how they influence the price of approved medications.

A preview of the evening’s discussion topics are below.

The Reasons for the High Cost of Prescription Drugs in the US

drug discovery processA recent article stated that “between 2014 and 2015, retail prices for 268 brand-name prescription drugs widely used by older Americans increased by an average of 15.5 percent, 130 times the rate of general inflation” (, Issue Brief July 2017). The per capita spending on pharmaceuticals in the US is higher than other countries. A subsequent report indicated that 14% of Americans who have been insured continuously in the past year, and 33% of those who have not had continuous insurance, have skipped filling prescriptions or taking doses of medications due to the cost of the drug (, Issue Brief October 2017). This often impacts the older population harder because of the multiple medications that they are taking.

The pharmaceutical industry is often blamed for excessive pricing. This perception has not been helped by the recent events when the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of a medication for HIV patients from a price of $13.50/pill to $750/pill. Absurd examples like this have created a distrust in the industry. However, the high cost of discovering and developing new medications, as well as marketing them once approved, is not well understood by the general public. This is even more true with the trend in the pharmaceutical industry toward developing biologic drugs (i.e. antibodies) instead of small molecules where the cost of these medications is much higher to the patient.


Drug Discovery Process and the Costs Associated

From Dr. Rawlins’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry he will give some examples of the process and timelines for getting a drug approved (the general process is outlined below).

drug discovery process

If you are unable to attend the Neighborhood Health Series about the drug discovery process on Thursday, January 18th, we invite you to attend one of the below events. These events are held every month with different discussion topics. For more information, please visit

JANUARY 18, 2018 | 5:30 – 7

How are Medicines Found and Why Do They Cost So Much?

FEBRUARY 15, 2018 | 5:30 – 7

Planting the Seed: Tending the Garden

The Path to Starting a Private, Not-For-Profit University

MARCH 15, 2018 | 5:30 – 7

March Madness: Allergies and Immune Response

APRIL 19, 2018 | 5:30 – 7

Good, Bad or insignificant?

Latest research, trends and myths around Cholesterol

Download Neighborhood Health Series 2018 Flyer


Rachael Wadley, MBA
Marketing Director
Roseman University of Health Sciences