Biopharmaceutical firms looking to lower research and development costs could save hundreds of millions of dollars by upgrading their technology infrastructure, a study by RTI International reports.

If improvements were made, companies could cut between 25 percent and 48 percent of R&D expenses for each drug that ultimately is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, RTI concluded.

"The ultimate beneficiaries of improved biopharmaceutical infrastructure are patients," said Michael Gallaher, the lead author of the report. "By lowering the costs and reducing the time required for development, patients would gain access to a broader array of novel therapies."

RTI examined bioimaging, biomarkers, bioinformatics and gene expression plus infrastructure support processing and quality control for manufacturing as well as post-market surveillance.

The study, which was conducted for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, reported that biopharma firms spend some $21 billion a year or R&D.

Another benefit of infrastructure improvements would be shorter time to market, the study added. From R&D to FDA approval, the drug process could be cut by 20 percent to 98 months from an average of 122 months.

Manufacturing costs could also be trimmed by 23 percent, RTI added.

The study was based on information from 44 technical experts representing firms who make up 42 percent of R&D spending.

The full report can be found at the NIST Web link.