Best of the Blog: IN VIVO, June 2008
Best of the Blog is a monthly column highlighting the best of our free online content at www.windhover.com/blog. In June and early July, Windhover's editorial staff posted more than seventy articles to the site, covering biopharma, device and diagnostics R&D, business development, regulatory and commercial news. Highlights included our very first "fantasy dealmaking" post as well as our take on PhRMA's new marketing regulations. Here are a few of our favorite blog posts for stories not covered elsewhere in this month's IN VIVO.
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Medicines to fight significant global health problems are scarce because the lack of commercial return trumps the fact that drug targets are well characterized and the required R&D investment is relatively inexpensive. The Gates Foundation hopes to create a more robust marketplace for global health medicines through non-dilutive funding. Gates money, plus Priority Review Vouchers and other creative tactics to ensure a market for these medicines may also persuade companies to develop drugs for long overlooked diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. It's not yet clear whether these alternate funding schemes will prove attractive, but they may start making global health increasingly a part of business planning.
Biotechs remain voracious consumers of capital, but tapping the equity markets is often prohibitively dilutive. Royalty financing can provide lower-cost-of-capital funding while putting a price on assets the market often ignores. This cash can also allow biotechs to hold onto R&D projects longer, eventually pushing up the price of licensing deals. But although royalty financiers are eager, they are limited in the amount of risk they are willing to take; new players in the business though may nevertheless increase competition and drive prices up.
Takeda and Millennium's recent out-sized tie-up reflects the different but real industry pressures from which both companies are suffering.Facing near-term patent exiprations of several key drugs, Takeda desperately needed to bulk up its R&D pipeline. Millennium, for its own part, was heavily dependent on the label expansion of its lead product, Velcade, as it struggled to maintain sustainable earnings growth and advance its early stage compounds through the clinic.