Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 5, 993-996 (December 2006) | doi:10.1038/nrd2199

Focus on: Molecular pharmacopoeia

OpinionHow many drug targets are there?

John P. Overington1, Bissan Al-Lazikani1 & Andrew L. Hopkins2  About the authors


For the past decade, the number of molecular targets for approved drugs has been debated. Here, we reconcile apparently contradictory previous reports into a comprehensive survey, and propose a consensus number of current drug targets for all classes of approved therapeutic drugs. One striking feature is the relatively constant historical rate of target innovation (the rate at which drugs against new targets are launched); however, the rate of developing drugs against new families is significantly lower. The recent approval of drugs that target protein kinases highlights two additional trends: an emerging realization of the importance of polypharmacology, and also the power of a gene-family-led approach in generating novel and important therapies.

Author affiliations

  1. John P. Overington and Bissan Al-Lazikani are at Inpharmatica Ltd., 1 New Oxford Street, London, WC1A 1NU, UK.
  2. Andrew Hopkins is at Pfizer Global Research and Development, Sandwich, Kent, CT13 9NJ, UK.

Correspondence to: John P. Overington1 Email:


These links to content published by NPG are automatically generated.


The druggable genome

Nature Reviews Drug Discovery Perspective (01 Sep 2002)

Network pharmacology: the next paradigm in drug discovery

Nature Chemical Biology Review (01 Nov 2008)

The influence of drug-like concepts on decision-making in medicinal chemistry

Nature Reviews Drug Discovery Analysis (01 Nov 2007)

See all 6 matches for Reviews


Network pharmacology

Nature Biotechnology News and Views (01 Oct 2007)


Surrogate Endpoints for the Treatment of Venous Leg Ulcers

Journal of Investigative Dermatology Original Article

See all 3 matches for Research