Pharmaceutical innovation is changing, and so the big pharma business model must evolve too, especially in the deals space, urged experts at the Biotech Showcase during the JP Morgan Conference in San Francisco this January.

Panelists of ‘The Pharma Perspective: Transformation and Trends’ session discussed how novel modalities such as cell and gene therapies present high-risk opportunities with the chance for high reward, necessitating an adjustment of deal strategy to capitalise on them. Innovation is increasingly found outside of Big Pharma, with much of the early-stage research in the hands of small, unpartnered independent companies.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

The panel agreed that traditional deal strategies must be adapted to foster innovation. Friedemann Janus, vice-president and head of business development at Bayer, spoke at the panel. He explained that to account for the higher risk of failure and facilitate a totally different return-on-investment strategy that could facilitate investment despite that risk, the company established an investment arm, Leaps by Bayer, to provide an isolated pot for investment in a high-risk portfolio, including the likes of CRISPR Therapeutics and CRISPR editing company eGenesis. For information on these deals and others, please refer to the GlobalData Pharma Intelligence Centre Deals database.

Also on the panel, Debi Watson, director of business development and licensing for Johnson & Johnson (J&J), discussed the importance of interacting with early-stage companies and fostering innovation through them. She explained, “J&J positions itself to interact with the ecosystem in a very significant way,” adding “we absolutely realise some of the best science is happening outside our four walls.”

Similarly, J&J opened the Johnson & Johnson Innovation (JJDC) venture capital arm of the company to focus on early-stage investment and partnerships rather than M&A. Speaking of Janssen’s (the pharmaceutical companies of J&J) high-risk 2017 investment in the China-based CAR-T company Legend Biotech, Watson said, “We did a licensing deal, we did not do an acquisition…the equation was that it was moving so rapidly…we really wanted to invest in the area and see how we could grow our capabilities and then make further investments.”

The panel concurred that scientific interactions and partnerships are occurring at earlier and earlier stages of drug development, with big pharma becoming more open to high-risk, early-stage investment and needing to, as Watson put it, ‘structure deals very creatively.’

Similarly, panelist Philippe Lopes-Fernandes, senior vice-president and global head of business development and Alliance Management at Merck KGaA, added some of the best innovation may be happening in Europe rather than the US or China, and explained, “We can find the same innovation or better in Europe, for a fraction of the price.”

John McDonald, corporate vice-president global business development at Novo Nordisk, discussed what had prevented Novo from doing deals in the past. He said that manufacturing presents a significant issue when it comes to producing clinical-grade and high-yield cell and gene therapies, with the FDA holding manufacturers to very high standards for reproducibility. Instead, McDonald explained Novo’s approach is to invest in its own manufacturing facilities in order ‘to become more of a centre for other people we’re trying to partner with.’