Novartis R&D strategy keeps marketers on the sidelines

One of the mantras in Big Pharma drug development work these days is that marketing strategies have to figure prominently in determining which programs get the bulk of their time and money. But in an interview with the Boston Globe's Robert Weisman, Novartis ($NVS) research chief Mark Fishman says he's been successful over the past eight years precisely because he kept the marketing group on the sidelines.

As head of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Cambridge, MA, Fishman is given a significant amount of the credit for concentrating on the science of drug discovery and focusing more closely on new drugs that can better treat smaller groups of patients, all while striking new research deals with academics and commercial groups while developing a "new grammar" for development.

"He's transformed drug discovery at Novartis,'' Harvard Medical School's Douglas Melton, a member of Novartis' scientific advisory board, tells the Globe.

The proof is in the pipeline. Novartis gained four approvals from the FDA last year and will angle for more with close to 50 drugs in late-stage development. And Novartis plans to spend $600 million this year expanding its R&D efforts with 200 to 300 new workers, boosting their in-house work while others are downsizing.

- here's the article from the Boston Globe