As the blockbuster sales model fades, the rush is on for a new formula for growth. "Good" growth: niched, balanced, and sustainable; with high margins from protected pricing; more patient-friendly than patent-centric; and where revenues draw from a deep reservoir of unmet medical need. The sized up, process-driven culture of Big Pharma is finding that new formula hard to swallow: it's a select menu of lean cuisine, without the familiar protein of mass promotion. In fact, the truest advocates of the new "good" growth come from unexpected quarters—what we at Pharm Exec call the "stealth" companies, those second tier players who aspire to reach the top by achieving a dominant market position around targeted drugs for underserved conditions. In the following profile, Pharm Exec takes a closer look at how one key mid-tier player—Denmark's H. Lundbeck—is counting on the momentum of the big US market to vault it to global leadership in treatments that unlock the hard science of the human brain.
Still, relatively little is known in the United States about Lundbeck's subsequent emergence as a company uniquely dedicated to the discovery and development of medicines for CNS disorders. For example, despite its diminutive size compared to Lilly and Pfizer in the high-growth category of anti-depressants, Lundbeck's labs have regularly spawned drugs that provide a forward step in therapy through new modes of action, providing clinicians and patients with more choice. Lundbeck scientists synthesized and introduced one of the first trycyclic anti-depressants and its early investigations on the SSRI class pre-dated the Big Pharma competition. The company's biggest seller, an SSRI with the proprietary name Cipralex, helped transform the company from a European to a truly multinational enterprise after it was introduced in 2002.