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Back in Fashion: Discovery Platforms (Certain Kinds, at Least)

Executive Summary

After the millennial boom in genome-related financings, platform companies went into hiding, surfacing again a few years later in product costume. But much of that has changed. Platforms are getting fed again-largely because, one step higher on the food chain, buyers have an appetite for them.

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Big Pharma's Leap into Biologics: Bridging both Scientific and Cultural Gaps

Pharma companies are bullish about biologics, seeing them as at least a partial solution for the pipeline troubles and reimbursement challenges bedeviling the industry. The major question is how best to bring these new biologics capabilities in-house--either piecemeal through a series of smaller acquisitions and licensing deals or in one fell swoop through the acquisition of a player with soup-to-nuts capabilities. Both strategies require delicate post-merger management skills, but many feel acquiring an end-to-end player is a faster, less risky solution to filling the biologics gap. But because few end-to-end biologics players are left for acquisition, in the future it seems likely that Big Pharma will be forced to make a serial acquisition strategy work.

Alnylam Takes Platform Monetization to a Whole New and Non-Exclusive Level

Alnylam's monster deal with Roche for non-exclusive rights to the biotech's RNAi platform across four therapeutic areas sets the bar for technology platform monetization. Not only is Alnylam gaining $331 million in upfront payments, it can turn around and re-license those same rights at any time. Roche is for the first time making a splash in RNAi, which it and other companies are betting will be a new therapeutic modality.

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