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Lilly Icos: A Complementary Alliance

Executive Summary

The Lilly Icos joint venture for the erectile dysfunction drug Cialis has the markings of a complementary alliance. Though too soon to gauge its commercial efficacy, so far the deal is working because both parties view it as a vehicle to build value of the sort important to them.

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Small Companies Can Too Co-Promote

Big Pharmas often argue that co-promotions with small companies are more trouble than they're worth. Icos is proving this assumption false, through its joint venture with Lilly for the new erectile dysfunction drug Cialis. The drug was third to enter the ED market in the US, but it's steadily taking share from category pioneer Viagra, and has now overtaken the second entrant, Levitra.

Small Companies Can Too Co-Promote

Big Pharmas often argue that co-promotions with small companies are more trouble than they're worth. Icos is proving this assumption false, through its joint venture with Lilly for the new erectile dysfunction drug Cialis. The drug was third to enter the ED market in the US, but it's steadily taking share from category pioneer Viagra, and has now overtaken the second entrant, Levitra.

Why Not Europe?

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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