What are Pharmaceutical Companies Looking for in Partnerships?

September 25, 2017

What are pharmaceutical companies looking for in partnerships?  Value and reproducibility.
At OHSU’s 2017 Commercialization Conference, executives from Pfizer, Merck, and Astellas, spoke on Pharma’s transition from internal R&D to external collaborations.
It has been a long time since pharmaceutical companies did everything in-house.  They continue to explore partnerships with external companies and are willing to fund outside research and development.  If you are looking for collaboration, there are two questions to ask before you approach a larger company:
(1)    Companies specialize--does your research fill a hole or add to their existing portfolio?  Make sure you are targeting the right collaborators.
(2)    Is it the right fund for your company?  Many companies have different funding arms for companies in different stages of development. Are you targeting the appropriate fund for your stage of development?
It has become increasingly important to be first or no later than second to market.  In proposing a collaboration, it is important to know what else exists in the space you are trying to fill, how you are different, and how your research improves outcomes.
Focus has shifted from incrementally improving outcomes, but value/cost.  Society wants everything faster, cheaper, and with bigger impact.  Pharmaceutical development is no different.  Is your product able to be used earlier in a treatment cycle?  Does it produce significantly better results than products that are already on the market? Incremental improvements no longer justify significant investment and insurance companies continue to be reluctant to add new drugs to their approved lists.
It takes, on average, 10-15 years from bench to market.  Standards of care change constantly and the concept of “Evidence Based Medicine” has changed both how and when research is integrated into treatment plans.  Inpatient to outpatient, ballpoint pens to sharpies, checklists, electronic monitoring, and genetic testing- will your product fit with the standard of care that exists by the time it gets to market? Make sure you know where your market has been, where it is, and where it is going.

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