Five-Year GSK/NeuroSearch Alliance: Big On Guarantees
NeuroSearch's broad and lucrative five-year deal with GSK ties up most of the biotech's remaining un-partnered pipeline candidates. But in exchange, the Danish group secures guaranteed funding that could last it through to profitability, and a strong endorsement as to the value of its science.
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Management endorsed GlaxoSmithKline's new R&D structure-the CEDDs-as an overwhelming success during the Big Pharma's December 2003 R&D day. But the analyst and investor communities weren't uniformly impressed. And fair enough: regardless of GSK's excitement and the storm of numbers and early stage results that promise a robust series of product launches, it's too early to judge the success of the CEDD experiment. A lot can go wrong between now and 2008, when the pipeline will ripen or rot.
Roche's October 2003 in-licensing of Ipsen's Phase I GLP-1 analog buys the Swiss group an initial stake in the fast-growing diabetes market. Most established diabetes players already have a compound in this class, but the partners hope that Ipsen's expertise in peptide delivery will set this program apart from competitors'. As the second licensing agreement between Roche and Ipsen in less than a year, the deal further validates Ipsen's pipeline, and suggests that Roche's carefully-managed partnership strategy continues to encourage repeat business.
SkyePharma fulfilled its profitability promise in 2002. Yet warnings of a revenue slip in the middle of 2003 have highlighted the group's reliance on the timing of uncertain milestones. But by building up its clinical and regulatory capabilities, increasing the proportion of its revenues derived from royalties, and leveraging a full pipeline which includes improved biologics, SkyePharma aims to increase its development control over its own and partners' programs and thereby maintain and grow its newfound profitability.