Merck's stock has been on a downward spiral over the last few months. And it's no wonder: with the constant drumbeat of news and analysis over Vytorin, it's been hard for investors to think about anything else.
So with the ferocious competition for compounds, how has Merck managed to stand out from the pack? To understand, Barbara Yanni, vice president and chief licensing officer, says you only have to look as far as the company's formula for business development: hire scientists to talk the science and comb the earth for compounds. It sounds expensive and a little chaotic, but the proof that it's working, in this case, is in the pipeline.Yanni, who is responsible for constructing the terms of licensing deals and partnerships, has been at Merck for more than two decades, after starting in the industry as a tax lawyer. Yanni sat down with Pharm Exec to discuss the company's growing number of deals, and what she feels is Merck's scientific advantage.
You hear often that the old Merck was "internally focused." When did that change?
But I do think Merck's attitude has changed. Dr. Peter Kim [president of Merck Research Laboratories], who came from outside Merck, was a big part of that.
How did Dr. Kim change Merck?
You can see his influence in deals like the one with Sirna. Sirna's business model was to do different deals in different therapeutic areas. We started to talk with them about a license in a particular category. But Dr. Kim's view was that if it worked, it would work in a lot of therapeutic areas. The platform had the potential to really change drug discovery and drug development. And if that could happen, he wanted Merck to be a part of it.