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A drug pipeline is the set of drug candidates that a pharmaceutical company has under discovery or development at any given point in time.

This involves various phases that can broadly be grouped in 4 stages: discovery, pre-clinical, clinical trials and marketing (or post-approval). Pharmaceutical companies usually have a number of compounds in their pipelines.

The drug pipeline is an important indicator of the value and future prospects of a company. Usually the more compounds in the pipeline, and the more advanced stage that these are in the better.

Other factors that are taken into account when assessing the value of a pipeline include the size of the target market of each drug, the market share that the drug is expected to capture and the risk that it will not be approved.

The cost of developing a new drug is astronomical – typically a drug costs many hundreds of millions and can reach 1 billion dollars over 15–17 years. Assessing this risk and filtering out as early as possible compounds that may not eventually get approved is essential to the pharmaceutical industry and involves checking the effectiveness of drugs as well as the likelihood of toxic events (Adverse event prediction).

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