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September 24, 1982

Designer Genes for Producing Drugs: Will They Wash?

JAMA. 1982;248(12):1503-1504. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330120061035

Recombinant DNA technology is all the vogue these days. It is the subject of intense media and investor interest. It has lured tens of millions of dollars from industry to support academic research, spawned a seemingly endless succession of symposia examining every nuance of the technology, and fostered the development of a hundred "recombinant DNA companies" in a dozen countries.

But those who are "bullish" on this new technology had best be prepared to be patient, at least for the short term; most of the prognostications made about this new area are almost surely overly optimistic. Even the authoritative and useful report by the Congress' Office of Technology Assessment, Impacts of Applied Genetics, recently hyperbolized that "the immediate direct economic impact of using genetic manipulation in the [pharmaceutical] industry, measured as sales, can be estimated in the billions of dollars, with the indirect impacts... reaching several times that value."