One item that gets a lot of press and inadvertently gives the public the impression that the drug industry is dragging its collective feet is academic PR. I see a lot of biotech news services, and occasionally the general press, picking up on some recently published academic research where the latest CURE to x y or z has been discovered. These are typically in model systems and generally don't go much further.
So, to use this blog to link another, Derek Lowe has written a couple of recent commentaries on this subject. See:
Among other items (he's real good, and everyone in my industry should be reading him), he points out that the finds in academia seldom make for promising drug candidates for a variety of reasons. How a compound will behave in the body and it promiscuity being the primary issues. He gives an example of just such a compound in the second post.
But..as he also points out, these non-drug compounds can be wonderful research tools that go a long way to advancing our knowedge about targets, disease states, etc. We are fortunate IMO that the government has always seen fit to fund a good deal of purely academic research. While it may not show us the next great drug, it will almost certainly help light the way.