NEW YORK--(New York Pharma Forum’s (NYPF) 23rd Annual General Assembly in New York on December 7th.)--The biopharma industry faces significant challenges: diminishing capital for early-stage drug development, an uptick in drug patent expirations and efforts by payors to reduce reimbursement. To address these hurdles, industry leaders should consider new strategies to collaborate with academia, nonprofit organizations and industry peers. These were key conclusions at
“Government cannot perform scientific research or run companies. But we can provide the infrastructure the private sector needs to thrive—including, for example, attracting the talented scientists and engineers who work in key sectors of the innovation economy”
Speaking on “Creative Investment and Partnerships to Stimulate Innovation” were:
- James Greenwood: President & CEO, Biotechnology Industry Organization
- Ann Li: Executive Vice President, Center for Economic Transformation, New York City Economic Development Corporation
- Alan Paau, CLP, MBA, PhD: Vice Provost, Cornell University; President, Cornell Research Foundation, Inc.; Executive Director, Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization
- Gregory Wiederrecht, Ph.D.: Vice President & Head, External Scientific Affairs, Worldwide Licensing & Acquisitions, Merck & Co., Inc.
- Tadataka (Tachi) Yamada, M.D. Executive Vice President, Board Member and Chief Medical & Scientific Officer, Takeda Pharmaceuticals
Mr. Greenwood mentioned several indicators showing a slowing pace of biopharma R&D innovation since 2001, including shrinking of venture capital funding and stagnant drug approval rates.
“The traditional model is no longer dependable to sustain innovation at the level we need,” Mr. Greenwood said. “We need new models to stimulate creative partnerships and investments and new public policies to support innovation.”
Dr. Wiederrecht agreed, noting that Merck has begun implementing novel partnership strategies. He described Merck’s three new external research initiatives to identify early stage opportunities: the California Institute for Biomedical Research, the Merck Initiative for New Targets and the Merck Research Ventures Fund. “There are huge unmet medical needs. If we develop really novel medicines, we’ll be successful,” Wiederrecht said. “Merck can’t get there alone; we’re constantly seeking the best partners throughout the world.”
Dr. Paau said traditional industry-academic partnerships, including technology transfer and sponsored research, can work, but can be challenging, particularly when corporations don’t understand universities’ intellectual property policies. He proposed that corporate partners and universities create their own startups with the corporate partner owning 51 percent of the shares and making investments based on development milestones. At each milestone, the corporate partner could purchase or exit the startup. “This is a win-win partnership scheme especially suitable for large companies doing their own research but wishing to expand and diversify their pipelines,” Dr. Paau concluded.
With U.S. and European markets stagnating, the industry is seeking growth in emerging markets, Dr. Yamada remarked. To succeed in these markets, he said companies must adopt a sense of urgency to address the most critical needs and take risks to ensure the discovery of revolutionary ideas. “One in a thousand new ideas might work, but if that one idea leads to a breakthrough, then it’s worth the investment,” he said. “To make that possible, we need to challenge the dogma and be willing to fail often. Success is only built upon the back of failure.”
Ms. Li described the Bloomberg Administration’s initiatives to spur growth in the biotech industry, including the Applied Sciences NYC initiative to create new engineering campuses that will eventually more than double the number of full-time graduate applied science and engineering students in the City. “Government cannot perform scientific research or run companies. But we can provide the infrastructure the private sector needs to thrive—including, for example, attracting the talented scientists and engineers who work in key sectors of the innovation economy,” Li said.
NYPF’s annual meeting was also held Dec. 7th. Thomas Heffner, Ph.D., Executive Director, Worldwide Business Development, Pfizer Inc., was re-elected President. Other officers elected were:
- Vice President: Catherine Sazdanoff, Vice President, Business Development, Takeda Pharmaceuticals International
- Secretary: Allen Downs, Senior Executive Director, Licensing and Business Development, Purdue Pharma L.P.
- Treasurer: Koki Ohashi, President, Kissei America.
New York Pharma Forum
New York Pharma Forum Inc. is a non-profit organization intended to encourage dialogue among U.S., Japanese and other international biopharmaceutical executives and business and financial professionals on global issues of common interest. Members gain access to critical information on business, policy and technology issues important to the future of the global healthcare industry. For more information, visit http://www.nypharmaforum.org.
Note to editors: photos are available upon request.