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Why Not Europe?

Executive Summary

Gilead is now one of the few US biotech firms with European sales and marketing infrastructure, which it is leveraging well. But the company didn't take its first product to the EU on its own--and execs say playing it safe was the right choice. Other biotech firms are increasingly deciding that the cost of establishing a European marketing presence is not worth it for just one product. Cubist Pharmaceuticals is the latest in a string of companies to reach that conclusion. The reluctance stems largely from the complexities of doing business in the EU-ranging from differences in language, culture and regulatory requirements, to idiosyncratic practices in pharmaceutical marketing, sales and prescribing. Yet European rights are valuable to companies with the means to leverage them, and thus many drug developers have been able to negotiate successfully for what they want--ongoing involvement with the drug and opportunities to learn about Europe.

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