, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 861–879 | Cite as

Is the pharmaceutical industry’s preoccupation with the monotherapy drug model stifling the development of effective new drug therapies?

  • Ian Edwin Cock


Drug discovery and development is heavily biased towards the development of monotherapies. Screening, testing, and evaluation of mono-entity drugs are generally much simpler than drug combinations, and are generally easier to get approval from the regulatory authorities for their clinical use. However, monotherapy drugs may not have optimal activity, may have associated toxicities, or may lose activity over time as their target develops resistance. Drug combinations, often developed from existing monotherapies, may have improved efficacy and/or be less toxic. Furthermore, the existing drugs which have lost efficacy due to the development of resistance can often be re-activated by combining them with other chemical entities. Thus, whilst the current climate for drug approval, registration, and clinical use drives the majority of drug development research towards the development of monotherapies, combinations are often a substantial improvement on the original drug. This commentary examines monotherapy and combinational therapy models and discusses the benefits and limitations of each model.


Combinational therapies Synergy Drug repurposing Complementary therapies Natural products Drug repurposing Traditional medicine 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Futures Research InstituteNathan Campus, Griffith UniversityNathanAustralia
  2. 2.School of Environment and ScienceNathan Campus, Griffith UniversityNathanAustralia

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