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Exelixis: Bartering for Growth

Executive Summary

This genomics-based company has used business development as a strategic tool, swapping for key capacities that have helped it quickly leap forward. As the company demonstrated the merits of its model-organism platform, it began asking partners not for the most money they would give--but for assets that would help it forward integrate. One deal that started small expanded into a life-changing technology swap: from BMS, Exelixis got combinatorial chemistry capacity that it can now use to make compounds against its own targets. It also got a Phase II drug candidate for cancer, and rights to half of the molecules it makes for BMS, and Exelixis has used its new chemistry capacity to sign other barter-driven deals. Rapid evolution has risks: unless Exelixis accesses other fairly mature drug candidates, there will be a gap between launch of its first product and other compounds that haven't been tried yet in humans.

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