The process of drug development as a simulation game

Simulation Game Haemophilia for Bayer AG

Did you know that it takes 12 years for a drug to enter the market after it has been discovered as a potential product, and that only 1% of all potential “candidates” ever make it into the market? On commission from Bayer AG, we developed a simulation game that makes this process easier to understand.

Bayer AG is among the leading pharmaceutical corporations worldwide. But only very few people have a real idea of all the criteria a drug needs to match before it can enter the market. Not many of us know of the considerations that play a role in this process.

Usually there are several so-called candidates for one condition – some in the early stages of initial research results, others in the test phase, with people who are suffering from that condition. In order to decide which candidates to continue developing, questions relating to patent, economic viability or possible side effects need to be considered. At the same time, one thing is clear: the competitors never sleep! Also, the budget is usually limited, i.e. not all candidates can make it through to the next round. Representatives of several departments are involved in the decision-making process: researchers, doctors, lawyers and marketing experts – all bringing different perspectives and different interests to the table.

On Bayer’s commission, we summarised this internal negotiation process in a short, strongly simplified simulation game – using the example of haemophilia. Our task was the development and the visual design of all game materials, a manual for the game’s facilitation as well as a test run with employees of Bayer AG.

In this case, development for us was completely dependent on the input from Bayer AG. During this process we learnt a lot ourselves, above all content-related facts. But we also learnt that despite playing barely at amateur level in relation to the game’s content, we are able to demonstrate the internal workings of a company in a simulation game – at least in a case like this, where cooperation was excellent.

The first run of the game, featuring masters students from the Health Care Administration Faculty at the University of Boston was a great success. Bayer AG, whom we’ve granted the rights to the game, is planning to use the game in future training courses and information events.

Facts + Figures

Target group

Students, interested participants

  • Background knowledge about process and costs of drug development
  • Insight into the decision processes within pharmaceutical companies
  • Overview over potential disruptive factors in the development process

Bayer AG


1 day

Number of participants



Boston, USA





  • "The simulation game was a complete success! The students liked it very much and learned a lot – not least about how complex drug development is and about the many factors we in the industry have to take into account. They also now have a better understanding of why it takes so long for a drug to enter the market."

    Kerstin Crusius, Head Global Science & Healthcare Communications, Bayer AG