Moore’s Law is that, roughly speaking, computer chips double in speed every two years. It is approximate of course but indeed the power of computers has increased exponentially over the last fifty years, transforming our society. Moore’s Law is pretty well known, but until a talk at a workshop in Vienna this week, I had not heard of Eroom’s Law.
Eroom is Moore backwards, it is backwards because it describes not a speeding up but a slowing down. Eroom’s Law is that the cost of developing a new drug doubles every approximately nine years. We are developing fewer drugs for more money, the plot from the article by Scannell, Blanckley, Boldon and Warrington is here. It shows the number of new drugs developed for $1 billion dropping below one in around 2000.
Scannell et al. discuss a number of possible causes for Eroom’s Law, because of course it is a problem. Healthcare budgets are under pressure, and bacteria are evolving resistance to our antibiotics, so ever decreasing efficiency in how we develop new drugs is not great.
I want to read the paper of Scannell et al. carefully, then maybe I’ll write a post about it. In the mean time, I want to talk about spaghetti bolognese. One of the fun things about scientific conferences, like the one I was at in Vienna, is that you meet scientists from all over the world, e.g., Italy.
Spaghetti bolognese can upset Italians who care about food, as neither the name nor the pasta+meat+sauce combination are Italian, yet poor Italy gets the blame. There is such a thing as bolognese sauce (ragu bolognese) but it is, I am assured by Italians and Wikipedia, applied to tagliatelle not spaghetti*. There are traditionally good and bad sauce+pasta combinations, and ragu-bolognese+pasta is frowned on Italy but rather ubiquitous outside it. A somewhat bizarre situation but there you go.
*Tagliatelle and spaghetti are very different pastas, different shapes, one is made with egg etc.