Oiling the Engines of Invention - Big Pharma-biotech alliances - BioPharm International

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Oiling the Engines of Invention
Big Pharma-biotech alliances


BioPharm International



Stan Bernard, MD, MBA is a senior fellow at the Wharton School of Business, where he has been teaching Pharmaceutical Management since 1991.
The second thing that's occurred is more cross-fertilization. It's not unusual now for us to interview people from biotech in the Big Pharma jobs and vice-versa. The advantage is that biotech people think "speed." That doesn't mean [Big Pharma's] slow, but they think about taking the most rapid path possible. We add in the moderation—adhering to regulatory guidelines and so forth. That's worked well.

Senior executives from large companies who say, "I'd like to go out there and really live a dream" bring biotech the knowledge of what it takes to make something commercially successful. It's not getting to market, but getting to Phase I so that when Big Pharma partners come in, they're pleased with the work that's done.


GENERVON'S WINSTON KO, MBA (center) founded that company as a subsidiary of another one he founded, KM Biotech, whose focus is the discovery of proprietary trophic factors and their genes.
Ron Pepin, PhD [Medarex] As a small company, we're pretty well financed, but it's nice to have someone else share the risk, especially when the partner has expertise and other resources to throw into the mix.

Ed Broughton [Eisai] For Japanese companies, it's the tremendous urge to globalize. Not just to generate sales outside of Japan, but actually grow businesses through partnerships that can take on new opportunities.


Yanni and Ormsbee
Barbara Yanni [Merck] We're seeing that same trend with small-and midsize European companies that want to enter the US market, and one way to do that is through a partnership. That's been true for a long time, going back as far as the Astra-Merck deal struck in the early 1980s, but the trend has picked up a little.

The kinds of deals done today are perhaps different from those done in the past with biotech companies, many of whom started out thinking they were a discovery house but now want to bring things all the way through. They often look forward to mounting a sales force and commercializing and marketing their drug. [Biotechs] know, generally, that that is not something they'd be able to do on their own, which is why they take on a partner. They look for a deal—and this is particularly true for the Japanese companies—that can help them launch into a new territory, or launch them into the development or commercialization phase of their product.


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