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The Cooperative, Competitive Future of Pharma R&D

Executive Summary

The first annual rEvolution Symposium of top research execs didn't solve the R&D productivity problem, but it went some way towards examining how the industry has gotten itself into it. Most of the big-money technologies of the '90s have not increased the productivity of pharmaceutical R&D, both because they address less significant problems, in particular missing predictive toxicology, and because they've been mismanaged and misused. Moreover, because of the industry's 10-year product cycle time, many technology purveyors have had to overpromise in order to create buying interest that will in turn create returns for investors with much shorter time horizons; some technologies useful for research have been forced before their time to try to serve as the basis for drug creation. Two major areas to focus on: accountability and inter-company cooperation. On the former, the R&D chiefs want to apply to large organizations the kind of accountability intrinsic to small companies. On the latter: no company can solve the basic science problems alone--dealmaking, including consortia, are a necessity. The movement towards decentralization and inter-company cooperation is likely to lead to the disaggregation of the industry's research efforts--and a boon for productive biotechs, granted they can hold on through this time when their models are financially unsustainable.
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