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Orion: Overcoming Inexperience

Executive Summary

Finland's mid-80s decision to expand patenting inspired Orion Pharma to begin its own research. The firm quickly showed itself to be innovative and productive: coming up with several drugs interesting to Big Pharma licensees. But Orion has had difficulty turning its scientific achievement into commercial success. Partnering has not always gone well, while lack of management structures and limited funding have also hindered progress. Recent setbacks with Simdax, a drug for heart failure, spotlight the challenges of running effective clinical trials and gathering data for international regulators. Orion says it has learned its lessons, and instituted changes to help it overcome past problems. R&D and commercial operations are more closely managed; priorities are set and respected. The firm believes it can still make a success of Simdax, and has even higher hopes for the anti-anxiety drug that's next in its pipeline. A new partnership with Pharmacia brings it cash and expert assistance. Orion seems increasingly aware of, and able to meet, the challenges of being a Scandinavian company in a competitive international industry.

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