Where Innovation Meets Commercialization

Pharmaceutical Executive, Pharmaceutical Executive-09-01-2022, Volume 42, Issue 9

Pharm Exec releases its annual product launch feature articles.

Biotechs have long been considered the idea incubators with their innovative R&D, while Big Pharma has been known for having the commercialization ability to bring those ideas to fruition—think BioNTech and Pfizer’s partnership to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

But in today’s climate, more and more biotechs seem to be breaking this mold and are venturing out to perform their own launches. To bring it back to COVID vaccine development, rising biotech Moderna chose not to partner with a larger pharma company in order to commercialize its vaccine across the globe.

According to a February 2021 McKinsey & Company report, first-time launchers account for more than 25% of all new molecular entities submitted to FDA since 2016. The share of launches by first-time launchers has more than tripled over the past decade. And the firm estimates that 22 of the 39 estimated blockbuster launches forecast to emerge between 2021 and 2025 will be by first-timers—that’s 56%. In the years 2016–2020, it was just 20%.

In my June 9 article titled “Is the C-Suite Getting Inflated,” I discussed the talent opportunities at biotechs, whereby C-suite titles could be used as a draw to attract rising execs professionally stalled amid the hierarchy of Big Pharma. To wit, shortly after FDA approved Moderna’s COVID vaccine for emergency use authorization, it brought on Corinne Le Goff, PharmD, MBA, as its chief commercial officer (featured in our June 2021 issue). Le Goff, whose experience included positions at Amgen, Roche, Merck, Pfizer, and Sanofi, was able to bring her commercialization credibility to the blossoming biotech.

As the Pharm Exec staff assembled this month’s issue featuring the top product launches of the past year, we considered drugs from both biotech and Big Pharma. No matter who was behind them, these five launches were chosen for their ability and potential to move their respective markets. This year, we bring you the stories behind Novartis’ Leqvio (inclisiran), Lilly’s Mounjaro (tirzepatide), Idorsia’s Quviviq (daridorexant), Roche/Genentech’s Vabysmo (faricimab-svoa), and Argenx’s Vyvgart (efgartigimod alfa-fcab). Each had its own challenges to face, each had its own niche to fill. But overall, all are forecast to bring a marked benefit to society.

When I returned to Pharm Exec in the summer of 2019, this annual feature was the first one I worked on. The innovation and potential impact contained in these noteworthy products is always enlightening. With this issue, it seems as though things have come full circle for me. It’s with mixed emotions that I report this will be my last issue of Pharm Exec as editor-in-chief. As I transition to a more flexible freelance work lifestyle, I hope to continue collaborating with many of you. It’s been an honor to listen to some of the smartest people I’ve ever met and share their stories in order to enrich the professional lives of our readers. While being in pharma is all about the patients, being in publishing is all about our audience. So thank you for all your support and feedback during my time at Pharm Exec. It’s been a pleasure to serve you.