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After Roche/Genentech: Pharma's Focus on Efficiencies, Not Innovation

Executive Summary

Roche's rationale for buying Genentech must out-argue the one big reason not to do the deal: theirs has been the most successful relationship in pharmaceutical history. Instead, Roche is betting that this unique relationship has already borne its best fruit. In an emerging world of payor constraints, biological me-toos and growing oncology marketing expenses, the costs of keeping Genentech independent -- manufacturing transfer prices, up-front fees and royalties, and most importantly, no ability to leverage its investment in the US marketplace -- are simply too high. Moreover, Roche is clearly not convinced that Genentech's productivity would have continued at the rates it has in the last decade. Roche's vision of the pharma future looks a lot more like the cost-constrained world CEO Schwan knew at Roche Diagnostics - where innovation was rare and rarely paid for; where extraordinary business acumen counted for more than outsized research capabilities.

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Actelion Follows Innovation into GP Markets

Actelion has become Europe's most successful R&D-based biotech largely on the success of Tracleer for PAH, a specialist indication. Now, facing competition in PAH, but in line with its strategy of following innovation wherever it leads, the company's starting to build a primary care-focused commercial operation to support GP-targeted pipeline assets. That takes Actelion into a very new game, and risks destroying the laissez-faire culture seen as crucial to its unusually high R&D productivity. But Actelion reckons a well-planned, step-wise, and nimble approach to primary care marketing will allow it to retain both the maximum value from its drugs, and its biotech-ness.

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