Gautam Jaggi, managing editor of the Ernst & Young report, and others at BIO described a business landscape in which funding from government agencies, big pharma partners, and patient advocacy groups has picked up where venture capital dropped off. In particular, he said, biotech firms and large drug companies are engaging in a new level of partnership in research. Patient advocacy groups are a big part of the change, according to Margaret A. Anderson, executive director of FasterCures, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank focused on accelerating medical research, who spoke on a panel on translational research. She pointed to the long-standing collaboration between Vertex Pharmaceuticals and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation as crucial to the biotech firm’s therapy for the disease, Kalydeco, having been approved earlier this year. Funding from patient advocacy groups generally comes with a high expectation that researchers produce results, Anderson emphasized. “People running these foundations are not just going to hand over a check and see where things go,” she said. “There are milestones.” Academics involved in drug research don’t like being given such deadlines, but they are changing their attitudes as funding from traditional sources tightens. And drug companies are eagerly pursuing partnerships with patient groups. “Big pharma walked up to the table and said, ‘We can’t get there from here without the patient community,’ ” Anderson said. Introducing his firm’s annual industry outlook, G. Steven Burrill, CEO of the investment bank Burrill & Co., spoke of transformative changes ahead for large drug companies as the science of drug discovery becomes more complex, the regulatory path less certain, and reimbursement through the health care system more challenging.
by Rick Mullin |
June 25, 2012