Best of the Blog: IN VIVO, June 2008
In May, Windhover's editorial staff posted 35 articles to the blog, covering biopharma, device and diagnostics R&D, business development, regulatory and commercial news. Here are a few of our favorite posts that didn't make it into stories covered elsewhere in this month's magazine: Changing of the Change Agents: Exit Wyeth's Ruffolo, Enter Orbimed's Dolsten; Cimzia Launch: Nothing Simple About It; Lundbeck Thanks Myriad For the Memories; Takeda's Millions Buy a Lot of Beer.
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At Windhover's March 2008 Pharmaceutical Strategic Outlook meeting one overriding theme was an alliance paradox: values continue to rise and deals provide an increasingly important source of funds for biotechs, yet public investors don't seem to like these deals. Plus: a discussion of big-pharma outlicensing and the importance of CFOs in pharma strategy.
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.
Against the trend, Novartis has dramatically increased its discovery infrastructure because, unlike most of its competitors, it believes it can cut R&D attrition. Drug research fails, its R&D execs believe, because it oversimplifies heterogeneous diseases. Instead, Novartis is testing drugs early in rare diseases that might be models of broader conditions. The proof-of-concept idea isn't new, but Novartis is exploiting it more extensively than anyone else, in virtually all new programs.