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Drug Development for the Practicing Dermatologist: Have the Best of Both Worlds

Part 2 in a 2 part series.

In medical school and residency, the industry side of medicine is not exactly a topic that gets paid much attention. A few years into my own private practice, the opportunity to learn the process of drug development would come to fruition.

In the first article in this series, I discussed the importance of obtaining a patent and FDA approval. The next step is how to pay for your new endeavor.

Funding is a key and necessary component to move any drug program forward, as much capital will be needed. This process can be time-consuming and requires a lot of networking. Angel investors, venture capital, partnering with dermatology focused biotechnology development companies, and acquisition by larger pharmaceutical companies are potential avenues of exploration. A mentor from residency with relationships in industry was key in initiating my introductions to potential funding sources. Publishing relevant articles, lecturing on the topics and participating in numerous entrepreneurial biotechnology competitions (which have been popularized by the show Shark Tank) also opened many doors and helped tremendously in networking. The dermatology pharmaceutical and biotech industry is actually a pretty small world. And overall has been very friendly and helpful in the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Patience is a virtue in drug development.

Our nature as physicians is to be very efficient and then have immediate gratification when the task at hand is finished. This is not the case in drug development. As the pace of another entity dictates much of the timeline, with 10 years being the average timespan from conception to market for drug development. While everyday clinical practice is very enjoyable. The process of developing a drug satiates entrepreneurial curiosity while incorporating clinical expertise in an entirely new arena. Wearing two hats as both clinician and drug developer allows the combination of the best of both worlds. Identifying a need in the clinic and then developing the solution – a gratifying career path indeed.