There’s a “knowledge gap” in the health care industry, say leaders at Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company. The company believes, despite years of specialized education, many in the health care industry—from students to seasoned veterans—simply don’t have a solid grasp of the ins and outs of drug development. And understandably so; it’s a complex process that, typically, takes more than a decade and costs about $1.5 billion to bring a single drug to market. Lilly’s prescription to fix the problem: a new college course that sharpens the focus on drug discovery.

“There’s a lot of attention on pricing today,” says Lilly U.S. Medical Division Director of External Relations Yolanda Johnson-Moton. “Our goal is to help others understand what goes into the processes to develop a drug. It’s a process that takes time—about 10 to 15 years. And that time sometimes lends itself to why medications cost what they do.”

The class, called “Making Medicines: The Process of Drug Development,” will launch early 2016 in a handful of colleges and universities, including several in Indiana. The eLearning course is designed for graduate students in health-related fields, such as those in medical, pharmacy and nursing schools, as well as graduate level scientists and even MBA students, for example.

The elective course has been developed with a four-week timeframe in mind, but each of the seven “chapters” is self-contained, so a school can offer the modules “a la carte” or in their entirety.

“We’ve had interest even from early-career post docs and physicians; the scale of people wanting this level of knowledge has been quite incredible,” says Johnson-Moton. “We recognized especially students with interest in medical research and drug development didn’t really understand the process. I think they had bits and pieces of what’s entailed, but to look at the drug development cycle from molecules all the way through to the patient—that information was unknown.”

While the course is the brainchild of a pharmaceutical company, Johnson-Moton says the information isn’t “one-sided.” Lilly says it collaborated with 10 academic leaders from multiple institutions to develop and review the content, ensuring its “balance and academic rigor.” The class includes perspective from academic leaders and expert videos from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health.

“Our goal is to bring a comprehensive view to drug development, so the learner will understand from multiple perspectives how a pharmaceutical company collaborates with all key stakeholders to bring medications to patients,” says Johnson-Moton.

Lilly is hopeful understanding the process of making medicines will be a catalyst for collaboration, grooming future health care workers who are more interested in collaborating with pharmaceutical companies to bring drugs to market. Johnson-Moton says, ultimately, that could mean better patient outcomes.

“Having that level of education and then bringing together all of those great and innovative minds to create new products and therapies…that will lead to better outcomes,” says Johnson-Moton. “We are delivering the message, ‘What you do is very important from a patient care perspective, as what we do in drug development.’”

The Indiana University School of Medicine and the IU School of Nursing are among a handful of institutions piloting the course. Lilly aims to have about eight schools on board during the first year. With 170 medical schools in the U.S., Johnson-Moton says “the scalability could be quite large”—perhaps an antidote to the fuzziness that surrounds pharmaceuticals.

Johnson-Moton says the eLearning course is engaging and interactive.

Johnson-Moton says the course extends the company’s “longstanding focus on education” and helps bridge a “knowledge gap.”

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