I suggested in yesterday's post that Merck may be becoming more aggressive than the norm in pursuing licensing deals with small biotech and in particular may be willing to commit to deals in early clinical or pre-clinical phases.
Today I read several more articles about both Big Pharma and small biotech's that seem to have awakened to the reality that the world is changed. In doing so, these companies seem to me to be trying to approach their business differently than in the past. I'd like to call to readers' attention some of these nuanced approaches and let you decide if companies are changing their models.
Fierce Biotech reported today that Boehringer Ingelheim was starting a new $135 M venture fund (BIVF) to invest in start up biotechs. The fund would like to close its first deal by the end of 2010. BI's intent is to invest in new areas beyond its current therapeutic targets. It wishes to acquire new technologies and therapeutic strategies to combine with its existing pipeline and technical know-how. This also would appear to be an approach that would tolerate more risk as many of these type of investments would be expected to be more speculative or at least less certain.
Five members of the UK's BioIndustry Association (BIA) - Antoxis, Chroma Therapeutics, Ionscope, Karus Therapeutics, and Stabilitech - reported on its development trip to India's biotech and pharma hubs. The Development and Membership Services Team visited more than 60 companies in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai. Their mission was to raise awareness for the UK's cash constrained biotech's that need access to India's skilled and less expensive CRO, CRAM, and CMO service base. This arrangment would conceivably help the biotech's with needed skills to be more successful and diversify the customer base for the Indian companies - many whom are more aligned with Big Pharma. See thepharmaletter for the whole article.
Eli Lilly this week announced that is has completed a deal with Thermo for the latter to supply its clinical materials out of Lilly's Indianapolis plant. The deal would be through Thermo's clinical supply unit and ultimately Thermo would handle the distribution chores too by the end of 2010. According to Outsourcing Pharma.com, this latest deal is part of a more extensive Lilly outsourcing strategy that is intended to save more than $1 B over 5 years. Expanding its partnership with Covance is another example of a piece within the Lilly strategy. In maybe another twist, Lilly also announced this week that it planned to launch at least 15 new drugs in China over the next 5 years. John Lechleiter, Lilly CEO, urged China to be more vigilant on IP rights. Despite this concern, Lilly is obviously willing to expand in this important and rapidly growing market. Lilly also has a $100 M venture capital fund focused solely on China biopharmaceutical investment.
Posted by Bruce Lehr March 31st 2010