Is Pharma’s Perfect Storm Biotech’s

Many of us inside pharma lament the present challenges and look again to a gilded period when blockbusters offered rivers of money circulation and supported progress based mostly actions – each R&D and advertising. And but, may this current biotech’s biggest alternative as an business?

We’re all too acquainted with how the economics for large pharma have modified in the previous couple of years. Elements embrace:


  • patent expiries (present and imminent)
  • declining R&D productiveness (as measured by extra {dollars} for fewer accredited merchandise)
  • healthcare payor pressures as governments seek for price range cuts in all areas
  • paucity of future blockbusters within the pipeline


Biotech has usually been urged as a saviour with the suggestion {that a} targeted analysis fashion based mostly on deep insights, moderately than large swimming pools of space experience and serendipity, would result in better R&D productiveness. After over 30 years of making an attempt, there would not appear to be any conclusive proof that hangzhou biotest biotech analysis strategy has had any extra success. But, there may be nonetheless trigger for hope, although for causes pushed by necessity and economics moderately than simply science.

Biotechs by their nature begin out (and sometimes stay) as small, nimble firms having to discover a area of interest inside a a lot better ecosystem. As with all small organism or enterprise, you survive by being actually good at a targeted space or growing area of interest experience. You merely should not have the sources to compete with the large gamers.

Contemplating goal markets, regardless of the top-line attractiveness of blockbusters, biotechs usually goal area of interest indications. Whereas these could also be small and initially solely have gross sales potential within the a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars}, that may nonetheless make an enormous distinction to a small firm. The equation for large pharma is far more durable as they want new medicine, for progress or to switch patent expiries, to generate better gross sales to maneuver the efficiency needle. And but some medicine which begin of in area of interest (and even orphan) indications, acquire approval after which widen their market alternative via label extension. Some examples embrace:


    • Amgen’s erythropoietin stimulating agent, or ESA, franchise, together with Epogen (additionally know as epoetin) and Aranesp. Epogen was initially accredited in 1989 for anaemia in sufferers with finish stage renal illness, promoting $100 million in 1989. By 1997, the American Society of Scientific Oncology (ASCO) and American Society of Hematology (ASH) have been contemplating an “proof based mostly medical apply guideline on using epoetin in most cancers sufferers”. Since Amgen had licensed non-chronic kidney purposes to J&J (developed as Procrit), they additional capitalised on rising use of Epogen in most cancers anaemia by growing Aranesp, accredited in 2001. By 2010, Epogen and Aranesp had mixed gross sales of round $5 billion, from Amgen 2010 10K SEC submitting.


    • Different orphan medicine can find yourself being priced so richly that even these can result in blockbuster standing finally. An instance is Genzyme’s Gauchers illness franchise and Cerezyme which has over $1 billion in gross sales (and in no small half driving Sanofi-Aventis acquisition of Genzyme this yr for $20 billion).


  • One other instance of progress via label-extension use contains Cephalon’s drug for sleep issues, Modafinil or Provigil (commerce identify). This was initially accredited by the FDA in 1998 for improved wakefulness in sufferers with narcolepsy. In 2004, this label was expanded for approval to “enhance wakefulness in sufferers with extreme sleepiness (ES) related to obstructive sleep apnea/ hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS) and shift work issues (SWD)”. Provigil gross sales have been $25 million 1999, the yr of launch, and had grown to $1.12 billion by 2010. Nuvigil, a single-isomer formulation of Provigil, was accredited in 2009, and developed to increase the sleep problem franchise. This had 2010 gross sales of $186 million. Provigil and Nuvigil comprised round 46% of whole Cephalon gross sales by 2010 (knowledge from Cephalon 2010 SEC 10-Ok filings). Provigil’s progress via the corporate’s earlier historical past offered a major cashflow bedrock to allow additional pipeline growth. Apparently, Teva is buying Cephalon for $6.8 billion. When one considers contribution to gross sales, and the way its helped pipeline progress, Provigil has performed a significant half in supporting this transaction.


Different elements supporting a distinct segment focus embrace the growing hurdle with section II failures. Reporting in Nature Critiques Drug Discovery, the Centre for Medicines Analysis discovered that “Part II success charges for brand spanking new growth initiatives have fallen from 28% (2006-2007) to 18% (2008-2009)”. In his weblog reviewing what’s behind the section II failures, Derek Lowe (Within the Pipeline) notes that 4 therapeutic areas accounted for over 70% of the failures – cardiovascular, CNS, metabolic ailments (diabetes) and oncology. He recognises oncology and CNS as conventional excessive danger areas and diabetes is a troublesome well-served market with excessive present normal of care (making the efficacy barrier greater). But in cardiovascular, he suggests staying away from the large, apparent performs:

…that is fascinating, since that space has historically had one of many higher trial success charges. Maybe that one can be affected by the usual of care being fairly good (and sometimes generic, or quickly to be). So the high-success-rate mechanisms of the previous days are nicely lined, leaving you to strive your luck within the riskier concepts, whereas nonetheless making an attempt to beat some fairly good (and fairly low cost) medicine…

In an article from Bloomberg, Datamonitor stories that antibiotic R&D spend and income is anticipated to say no. The report anticipates that by 2019 solely two antibiotics can have gross sales of over $500 million – Levaquin from J&J and Cubicin from Cubist Prescribed drugs. But in my very own analysis I am coming throughout early stage firms (about to enter or already within the clinic) the place the enterprise mannequin is constructed round area of interest and/ or orphan indications for infectious ailments. Once more this permits a scenario the place an organization with even fairly lowly gross sales (by pharma requirements) – say a number of hundred million {dollars} – may nonetheless flip into a major industrial success for each the corporate and buyers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *