Overall, what the dealmakers panel found striking is the widening circle of players: academia has found its business roots and is proving a tough negotiator; patient/disease groups are beginning to pinch hit for sidelined venture capitalists as a source of development financing; and new arrivals from emerging countries are beginning to test the waters with deals to gain a foothold on the US market money tree. The conclusion is "know thy partner" will be crucial to a profitable marriage. With the cost of assets rising and payers demanding a more extensive up-front case for value, it's no time for rookies.
—William LooneyWilliam Looney, Pharm Exec: The Campbell Alliance Survey of Dealmaker Intentions is now in its fourth year. This is long enough to filter out the background noise and identify distinctive trends in the attitude of investors toward a sector with a historically high risk profile. What are the expectations for deals in 2012 and do we see a transition from the caution that branded previous surveys?
What is interesting is a divide in expectations about deals at Phase III. While in-licensors among the group expect a rebound increase in Phase III deals, those who out-license are projecting a drop. This spread between the in-licensors and out-licensors is the most pronounced in the survey's four-year history. It's hard to identify precisely what is driving the gap, but it is clear that Big Pharma—flush with cash—is desperate to acquire late stage assets that complement their therapeutic portfolios. The desire to supplement their stretched in-house development pipelines is contributing to the tagline: it's a seller's market. What the out-licensors seem to be saying, however, is that they don't expect to have a lot to put on the table, or that financing conditions may improve so they can do the commercializing themselves.