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Phar­ma, we have a prob­lem: New drugs can't cov­er the cost of Big Phar­ma's fail­ures

The annual Pharmaceutical Innovation Index measures pretty much the only thing that matters in pharma: did you take assets to market (and to patients) in the past 5 years, and did you do so successfully? Any measures of productivity that miss those two parameters are surrogates, and incredibly misleading.

However, take a look at these numbers, which compare performance of the top 11 in the 2018 Index with the lowest 10. Perhaps no surprise that the biggest spenders had a much greater chance of an approval in any year over the 5 years, and therefore derived much more of their revenue in 2017 from products launched in that period. But, we’re still only talking about 1 approval per year for the top 11 companies, on average.

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May the can­dle burn for­ev­er: Po­lite re­minders about the JP­Mor­gan con­fab

Editor’s Note: Biotech Voices is a contributed column from select Endpoints News readers. Below is an anonymous commentary from a public biotech CEO who was inspired to write a defense of JPMorgan following a litany of complaints.

Every year we start the biotech calendar with a busy January pilgrimage where JPMorgan hosts a widely attended get together that attracts big and small to the San Francisco Union Square neighborhood. Despite the perennial success of this event, it is interesting to hear recent complaints from multiple voices, suggesting diminishing returns and waning enthusiasm for future participation. While all of these complaints may be valid, let’s not go overboard and forget why this event is a key landmark.

Guest col­umn: The re­al cost of drug de­vel­op­ment

Pundits of drug development costs use very different models in computing the true spend in developing drugs. At one end of the spectrum is the pharma model: Take all the R&D costs over a decade, and divide by the number of drug approvals in a similar time frame. This gives an industry average of over a billion dollars per drug and includes the cost of drug failures and repeated indications before a successful one is achieved.

Guest col­umn: The 3 big waves re­shap­ing in­vest­ment strate­gies in ear­ly-stage biotech

We are at a time in life sciences when significant strides are being made to solve some of the most complex medical challenges. Rapid advancements in science and technology coupled with abundant capital are leading to new investment strategies that may permanently change how companies at the cutting edge of drug development are funded.

Let’s take a step back. For years, early-stage investors and drug development companies faced impossibly high fundraising hurdles, hampered by the high cost of capital, low clinical success rates and a long regulatory process that might stretch years.

Brad Lon­car­'s AS­CO18 pre­view: Past AS­COs point to the top drugs that will soon el­bow for the Os­cars of can­cer R&D

To prepare for the future, it helps to look back on what has happened in the past. ASCO is a great benchmark for doing that. Drug development does not happen overnight. A pattern of real progress emerges if you view things in the context of two “ASCOs” ago, or five, or ten. I always try to approach it from this macro perspective as I prepare for the conference because it helps set the stage for how today’s new developments might fit in.

Phar­ma's bro­ken busi­ness mod­el — Part 2: Scrap­ing the bar­rel in drug dis­cov­ery

Biotech Voices is a contributed column from select Endpoints News readers. Commentator Kelvin Stott regularly blogs about the ROI in pharma. You can read more from him here.

In Part 1 of this blog, I introduced a simple robust method to calculate Pharma’s Internal Rate of Return (IRR) in R&D, based only on the industry’s actual historic P&L performance.  Further, I showed that Pharma’s IRR has followed a rapid and steady linear decline over 20 years, which is consistent with recent estimates from BCG and Deloitte, and can be fully explained by the Law of Diminishing Returns as a natural and unavoidable consequence of prioritizing a limited set of investment opportunities while each new drug raises the bar for the next.  Finally, I showed that a simple extrapolation of this robust linear trend means that Pharma’s IRR will hit 0% by 2020, which implies that the industry is now on the brink of terminal decline as it enters a vicious cycle of negative growth with diminishing sales and investment into R&D.

Ele­phants can't jump? IDEA's Mike Rea says some Big Phar­ma play­ers are crush­ing old be­liefs

This is an industry that typically says ‘innovation’ when what it means is ‘invention.’ Innovation, as most purists will argue, is about return on invention, an ability to derive value from pipeline. That is what our Pharmaceutical Innovation Index measures — a company’s ability to launch successfully, to add more value to pipeline molecules than another company would. It is objective, and about how well the past 5 years have gone, regardless of how well the story has been spun.

On this Rare Dis­ease Day, let's all com­mit to help­ing rec­og­nize the life and work of biotech gi­ant Hen­ri A. Ter­meer

Last May the Cambridge community and entire biopharma industry suffered a tremendous loss with the unexpected passing of Henri A. Termeer. Henri was a former chairman, president and CEO of Genzyme Corporation for nearly three decades prior to its acquisition by the French drug maker Sanofi. Retiring from Genzyme in 2011, after his 28-year tenure, Henri led the company’s growth from a small start-up of 20 to 12,000 employees globally serving patients in more than 90 countries all while establishing Massachusetts as the mecca of biotech. He was known for his service to the rare disease community and his unsurpassed entrepreneurial leadership that spurred the rise of an industry dedicated to innovative treatments for orphan diseases. Henri set a standard, always putting patients first, and he forged the path for building a sustainable rare disease business, with many – including Alnylam – following his footsteps.  He was a mentor, a colleague, and a friend.

Phar­ma's bro­ken busi­ness mod­el: An in­dus­try on the brink of ter­mi­nal de­cline

Biotech Voices is a contributed article from select Endpoints News readers. Commentator Kelvin Stott regularly blogs about the ROI in pharma. You can read more from him here.

Like many industries, pharma’s business model fundamentally depends on productive innovation to create value by delivering greater customer benefits. Further, sustainable growth and value creation depend on steady R&D productivity with a positive ROI in order to drive future revenues that can be reinvested back into R&D. In recent years, however, it has become clear that pharma has a serious problem with declining R&D productivity.

Vi­su­al­ize: Just how much did biotech uni­corn Mod­er­na re­ly on im­mi­grants to build the staff?

Over the last few weeks we’ve been running a slide show illustrating in starkly graphic tones just how important immigrants are to biotechnology. That issue, which has become increasingly controversial as President Donald Trump has sought to redraw the rules governing immigration, clearly struck a nerve at biotech unicorn Moderna. CEO Stéphane Bancel, a native son of France, gathered with his big staff to illustrate just how many staffers had a family tree rooted in immigration — or directly connected to it. Let’s let the pictures do the talking, below.