The blockbuster is dead. Long live the blockbuster! The industry is experiencing cognitive dissonance. Many of today's leading pharma and biotech companies reached their positions by discovering or acquiring drugs with the ability to generate multibillion-dollar sales in a single indication. But the new consensus seems to be that although single-indication blockbusters may still occur, the single-minded pursuit of them is a bust as a strategy. So the question is: How to replace the revenues generated by the big drugs of yesteryear?
The answer is that it is still possible to generate blockbusterlike revenues. But doing so requires a different approach. Future moneymakers will be built from the ground up, using one of the three strategies that combine scientific and market perspectives to identify untapped opportunities. Their successful implementation will require steadfast stewardship and purposeful coordination between R&D and commercial operations. Like any significant change, at times it may make pharma companies uncomfortable, but in the long run it will also be rewarding.
Although they lack the simple elegance and ease of implementation of the traditional blockbuster model, the new strategies address the issues of today's multifaceted healthcare environment. They are complementary, and companies with the where-withal should pursue all three in parallel:
These approaches represent different levels of investment, risks, and potential rewards. Each also raises its own organizational issues. What they have in common is the potential to reduce the industry's dependence on fickle, single-indication blockbusters. The single pill represents the lowest risk and is closest to the industry's traditional paradigm; the treatment platform is the highest risk—and has the highest potential reward.
Develop Diagnostics The promise of genomics has raised expectations for the ability to detect, diagnose, and ultimately cure disease. Yet many common medical conditions continue to go undiagnosed, resulting in serious health issues for individuals and significant loss of revenue for the industry. It is estimated that 40 percent of those with mental illnesses and one-third of those with high blood pressure go undiagnosed and untreated.