GSK's Witty: Development must be radically restructured in R&D revolution

GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty has taken to The Economist to advocate for an R&D revolution inside the corridors of Big Pharma. His op-ed piece recites a now familiar litany of woes in the pharma world: The patent cliff is now at the front steps, old "industrialized" research models proved unproductive and regulators are getting tougher on new drug approvals even as public payers are lowering the boom on prices.

Witty's solution: Create a research environment that encourages the art of drug development, cut loose programs quickly if they don't measure up and partner more with biotech companies, academic groups and other Big Pharma brethren.

"Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly partnering with smaller specialist firms and academia," he notes. "This spreads risk with lower up-front costs. There is also a need for big pharmaceutical firms to work together. The decision of Pfizer and GSK to pool our HIV products to create ViiV Healthcare, a specialised HIV/AIDS company, is an example of this."

With a little help from regulators, he sums up, Big Pharma will look entirely different in just five years. 2016 here we come.

- here's the op-ed from Witty