New licensing chiefs for AZ, Genentech talk deal strategy

AstraZeneca's new licensing chief, Shaun Grady, traveled to Chicago to spread the word about the pharma company's new partnering strategy at BIO. AstraZeneca has been reengineering its approach to drug development recently, moving away from an in-house approach to a new strategy that will look for external deals to drive 40 percent of its R&D.

The pharma company has already outlined plans to drop work in schizophrenia, bipolar disease, depression, anxiety, acid reflux, thrombosis, ovarian and bladder cancers, systemic scleroderma and hepatitis C.

"Historically, AstraZeneca was much more focused on organic growth," Grady told Reuters. "We're looking at internal and external in a consistent way, with the same quality of data, making judgments irrespective of where the origin was. It's all about the quality of the products, which is quite a change."

Dr. James Sabry, another new partnering chief at Genentech, told a standing-room-only crowd that he's looking to make new neuroscience and immunology pacts that can offer the kind of blockbuster rewards the big biotech has found in cancer. According to Sabry, half of the molecules under consideration at Genentech today originated outside the company. And there's a particular interest now in microbial pathogenesis.

- here's the Reuters interview with Grady
- and here's the report from the San Francisco Business Times on Genentech