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The latter stages of a drug development effort are by far the most expensive (Phase II and especially Phase III trials); it’s as if getting the final edit of a movie consumed 70% of the total budget, and as if the editing technology would (in a majority of cases) suddenly and randomly zap your entire film into unrecoverable waste products.
Hollywood would look a bit different under those conditions.
That’s why movies can be pitched in single lines to people who know a lot about them: “Star Wars, but underwater”. My point is that narrative entertainment is a very well worked out area.
First, we have a big one: we know a lot more about movie-making than we know about drug-making.
I’ve used this one myself; it leads off a talk that I put together a few years ago.
The model for a movie studio is that not all your films are going to be hits, or even make money.
The equivalent in drug research is the idea of looking for agonists, antagonists, or allosteric modulators at receptors, or inhibitors of enzymes.
These are our well-worn plots, but there’s a big difference, in that we’re not trying to please humans by doing what humans have liked before.