The $102B club: The top 15 R&D spenders in the glob­al bio­phar­ma busi­ness — 2019 edi­tion

Over the past few years, the del­uge of cap­i­tal in­to biotech has helped lead to a dra­mat­ic shift in fo­cus on new drug ap­provals, as star­tups are now able to raise enough cash to get through a piv­otal and on­to the mar­ket. But the top 15 play­ers still ac­count for $102 bil­lion in spend­ing, and their suc­cess­es and fail­ures con­tin­ue to de­ter­mine just how pro­duc­tive the in­dus­try is.

Re­cent­ly we’ve seen a num­ber of new R&D chiefs take their places at the Big 15, ei­ther set­ting the stage for a more fo­cused R&D strat­e­gy — of­ten play­ing more heav­i­ly in on­col­o­gy. That’s true for As­traZeneca, which has had some land­mark suc­cess­es, and GSK, which is in search of its own turn­around in phar­ma R&D. HIV and vac­cines are sep­a­rate from that group, now led by Hal Bar­ron.

I’ve made a point of watch­ing their track record every year for more than a decade now. What fol­lows is in­tend­ed as a broad gauge of their ac­tiv­i­ty. You don’t have to have a lot of ma­jor suc­cess­es to score a win­ning record here, but it’s vir­tu­al­ly im­pos­si­ble with­out a block­buster or three in the pipeline.

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