Several articles on R&D models, new drug acquisition and innovation coming out of BIO 2011 today in Fierce Biotech.
First up, Merck's head of worldwide licensing strategy, David Nicholson, tells us (here) that it will be on the hunt for very early stage projects -- before proof of concepts -- to augment its product pipeline (rather than build technology base). Merck says it does 50 "significant" deals per year. The acquisition of products will be aligned with the 11 disease categories that Merck has decided to focus on (like CVS disease, neuroscience or oncology - plus 8 more). Merck wants to get in early and to partner as its ticket to extracting maximum value in these deals. Merck says that it and its academic partners are more skilled now at valuing early stage assets and it is now easier to work with Tech Transfer offices than in the past. "The majority of the science is 'out there', not in Merck's labs" says Nicholson.
Fitch Ratings has published an analysis (here) of Big Pharma's drug development activity since the beginning of the year and 22 new late-stage programs were added to their pipelines, mostly from in-licensing and acquisition. The most active dealmakers -- Lilly, Pfizer, and J&J -- were among those companies looking to take the biggest hit via the patent cliff. The awards for best internal pipelines go to GSK, Novartis and BMS. The majority of companies though seem to be betting on a greater return from in-licensing over internal development from their own R&D.
Finally, Big Pharma's headed over the patent cliff are not only lookng to academia for help but are also scouring the countryside for deals with biotechs to increase their pipeline innovation quotients (here). For biotech's that is good news as there are more deals to be had at better terms to provide much needed funding. Should biotech's fear the increased attention being shown by Big Pharma to academia? "if you've got good stuff you don't need to feel threatened by big pharma's interst in academia" IF you have good stuff.
Posted by Bruce Lehr June 28th 2011.