2012 Dealmakers Outlook

Jun 01, 2012
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

WL: Speaking of truth to power, what are the most important actions that should be taken to enhance the climate for productive partnering around more and better innovation?

Blumberg: Companies need to behave responsibly. Science is tricky and much damage has been done over the years when companies flogging a development-stage product take advantage of the unknowing public investor. The goal always has to be not just to sell shares but to provide value. The same can be said about partnering transparency and reasonable expectations driving fair and successful deals.

Altomari: Big Pharma, small biotech, and the financing community all tend to speak different languages. It is important to keep bridging this gap in business cultures, by bringing in people who understand the other side because they've been there.

Dunn: It would be helpful to smaller companies if Big Pharma companies could settle on a single point of contact within the company. A critical pre-condition for success with a partner much bigger than you is to find the right people who can make the decisions. I've seen situations where you are speaking to an internal group that eventually declines interest, only to be discovered by another internal group who insists "we have to talk." It can be frustrating since business development is rarely centralized within Big Pharma.

Lilley: Better coordination between the FDA and the EMA on defining risk-benefit is essential to improving the stability of the innovation cycle. That coordination should tie into a commitment to collaborate with industry as well. Both would help clarify the market prospects for deals.

Garen: While regulators continue to seek evidence for product claims, and payers are seeking value for cost, the industry and the investment community should continue to evolve ways to best address these demands and maintain the pace of innovation.

WL: What can industry do on its own to create the infrastructure that facilitates good deal making? Is the business development function keeping pace with the urgent task of finding good deals that supplement the internal pipeline? AstraZeneca has tried to increase the information flow by moving business development directly into the R&D reporting structure.

Wills: I've seen organizational structures come and go over the years. I don't believe it makes a lot of difference. Where the function resides doesn't affect the mission or how business gets done. What counts are good people and supportive management.

Altomari: As a CEO, I care nothing about the structure. When we have a meeting about an asset opportunity, I simply want to have three people at the table: a business development strategist, who can explain the deal; a medical affairs person, who knows the science; and a commercial officer who can relate the asset to the overall business plan. These are the skill sets you need today to get to first base. In terms of the structure of the deal itself, the trend is to layer it in a way that spreads risks. Contingent or deferred payments and the terms for each are carefully laid out.

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