BMS CEO Lamberto Andreotti says FDA-approval of ipilimumab for melanoma validates that the Big Pharma R&D model (at least as embodied in BMS) works. See WSJ interview.
I'm thinking one drug does not a pipeline make and don't count your chickens before they have hatched. No doubt an FDA approval of a drug likely to spin billions in revenue into BMS company coffers is plenty of reason to celebrate, but I wouldn't equate it with validation of a industry's R&D model or even BMS' model as a company.
"My R&D pays" says Andreotti, "It pays not only because we have results, but because we invest our money very carefully."
Andreotti says BMS has spread risk by developing drugs for a range of different diseases using different approaches rather than pursuing various kinds of businesses [Ed note: like animal health, diagnostics, or consumer products].
My comments? In general, I like idea of divesting non-pharma businesses (e.g. Mead Johnson nutrition) to focus on pharma if that is the business you want to be in. I'm in alignment there with BMS approach (one Pfizer says it will also move toward). But, I still think the jury shall remain out until BMS can consistently deliver approvals from its pipeline - until then I would avoid crowing about my R&D success. Maybe besieged pharma CEO's need to tout their strategy "successes" whenever they get the chance. But it is a long term game, so a string of long term successes is more indicative of proof for a successful model.
Posted by Bruce Lehr March 27th 2011.