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The Boston biotech cluster proved an ideal setting for Pharm Exec's recent annual Editorial Advisory Board meeting, with the prevailing message that even the best environments for innovation require constant nurturing.
The 32nd floor HQ of the Boston Consulting Group, overlooking one of the oldest commercial ports in the US-dating back to 1660-proved the ideal setting for last month’s annual meeting of Pharm Exec’s Editorial Advisory Board (EAB). Literally, it was a room with a view, where sea and sky converge at the horizon line to provide a base point for orientation. That sense of where
you are. Which is precisely what the 33 members of our Board did for us on April 7.
Our theme for the day was the current state of medicines innovation, using the Massachusetts model for biopharmaceutical industry investment to examine whether the standard growth formula of great minds, big money and good government still works to deliver results to patients. Three outside guests from academia, industry advocacy and the commercial space joined us in an informal Roundtable to render a few simple and straightforward conclusions: the regulatory issue of the moment-greater industry transparency on R&D spending-will not bend the drug cost curve; basic academic science remains the springboard to breakthroughs, not just in finished products but in the vital sidebar of process innovation as well; the best salve to high-risk commercial investment is predictability in public governance; and the emotional toll from personal exposure to illness is a critical force multiplier in driving the momentum for new cures.
Most of all, we saw how even the best environments for innovation-and Boston is certainly tops here-require constant nurturing.
The key challenge? Despite the region’s success in generating biotech start-ups that big Pharma wants to partner with, fewer are turning that raw potential into sustainable long-term growth. MassBio reports a slow decline in seed financing that could over time jeopardize the state’s record of global leadership in early-stage R&D-the petri dish of innovation.
The big message? In the long slog from idea to investment, and from investment to impact, nothing can be taken for granted. Communicating this premise in new ways, with a personal touch, to diverse audiences that do not include the same familiar faces, is the assignment that the EAB has asked Pharm Exec to take on. Not just to keep public health standards high, but to ensure our own brand’s survival, too. For 35 years, medicines innovation has been the universal language of Pharm Exec, helping us to achieve global reach, grounding our efforts around practical information, all geared to help decision-makers with gravitas solve problems and execute good decisions. We don’t intend to change, so look for our commitment to the cause in the year ahead.
EAB members, first row, left to right: Michael Swanick, PwC; Michael Ringel, Boston Consulting Group; William Looney, Pharm Exec; Barbara Ryan, Clermont Partners; and Peter Young, Young & Partners. Second row: Carrie Liaskos, InVentiv Health; Mason Tenaglia, IMS Health; Joanna Breitstein, Global TB Alliance; Ken Kaitin, Tufts University Center for Study of Drug Development; Terry Hisey, Deloitte; Don Creighton, ICON. Third row: Murray Aitken, IMS Institute for Health Informatics; Terese Waldron, St. Joseph’s University Haub School of Business; Matt Gross, SAS; Michele Holcomb, Teva Pharmaceuticals; Daniel Pascheles, Merck & Co.; Chandra Ramanathan, Bayer AG. Fourth row: John Furey, Baxalta; Steve Girling, Ipsos Healthcare NA; Michael Tessalone, Pharm Exec; Frederic Bouchseiche, Focus Reports; Les Funtleyder, Esquared Asset Management; Cliff Kalb, Kalb Associates. Fifth row: Al Topin, HCB Health; Bob Jansen, Zensights LLC; Albert Wertheimer, Temple University; Rob Dhoble, Adherent Health; Bernard Lachapelle, JBL Associates. Present, not pictured: Ian Wilcox, Hay Group. (Photos: John Halpern)