For years, drug makers were criticized for racing to market with so-called me-too medicines. These are drugs that arrive in the marketplace after the first in a particular class of drugs is approved for treating a certain malady. Instead of developing something that offers little, if any, improvement over a first-in-class drug, critics have contended that drug makers use precious R&D resources to focus on developing therapies for ailments that are lacking treatments.
Now, though, a new analysis suggests the me-too phenomenon often occurred because companies were simply engaging in concurrent drug development, rather than opportunistic efforts to ride on the coattails of a successful medicine. A review of approvals found that 83 percent of so-called later-in-class drugs were already in the middle stages of drug development when a first-in-class medicine was approved.