The Boston Globe wrote a piece yesterday that lauds Mark Fishman, Novartis' research chief, for his innovative thinking in reorganizing Novartis R&D efforts. The"innovation" he promotes is to focus on the science.
This approach - particularly looking at molecular pathways - that cut across a number of interactions between cellular molecules that can effect multiple diseases, i.e. Novartis has a better understanding of disease mechanisms and drug effects on these. In choosing this path, Fishman purposefully distanced himself from marketing desires for incremental innovations and moved toward innovating towad unmet need.
Readers of this blog should notice that other commentators cited here have begun to harp on this same point that the industry has become too enamored with incremental improvements and offering me-too drugs at a time when regulators and payers are saying - Enough! We want innovation and value with new proudcts. See commentary here in this blog via Pharma Reform, PharmaGossip and Xconomy. All effectively comment on lack of innovation.
He accomplished this in part by setting up in the dynamic Cambridge area where he could tap into a plethora of academic and other company collaborators. He also invited clinicians into Novartis labs at early-stage research. He tested his ideas in "proof of concept" trials with basically orphan diseases.
Doug Melton, Harvard Medical School professor and a member of Novartis' scientific advisory board says of Fishman, "He wanted to be guided by the science. My suspicion is there was a lot of tension on the business side." And, it's this type of "tension" that is required to change the paradigm and make improvements in this industry.
The proof will be in the drugs produced. Novartis has gained 4 FDA approvals in the past year and has more thna 50 drugs in its pipeline. This is considered to be among the healthiest pipelines along with Roche - another company that has clearly chosen the innovation path. Maybe there is something in that Alpine water that causes these leaders to aspire to more lofty innovation.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Jan 6th 2011.