Shire Lays a Stake in Vaccines
Shire has been buffeted by management upheaval and generic and branded competition. But the group's foray into vaccines is a sensible long-term bet, offering it a low-risk route into R&D.
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The low-risk specialty pharmaceuticals model has never been more fashionable, in part thanks to the success of one of Europe's in-licensing pioneers, Shire. Shire's founder Harry Stratford is now having another go with Strakan, but incorporating R&D far earlier in Strakan's evolution than has been the case at Shire, thereby attempting to address the thorny question of long-term sustainability-one that Shire and other more mature in-licensing firms are currently grappling with.
Chiron's acquisition of PowderJect is the most recent sign that the vaccines industry is coming of age, taking the field's only two mid-sized players up among the top-ranking Big Pharma. This deal was largely about infrastructure. But it suggests any European biotech with a valuable asset--be it product or distribution network--is an attractive takeover target for US firms.
Forced by a series of setbacks to downsize its antibody platform, Crucell is now turning to vaccine applications of its human cell production technology to satisfy its product developer ambitions.