Though widely endorsed, deals may not be R&D panacea

Sanofi chief and Genzyme conqueror Christopher Viehbacher put it this way: "You have to decide where you are strong in research and development and where you need partners,'' reports the Boston Globe. "The idea that you are going to catch the ball on the 5-yard line and run it all the way down on your own, that's not going to happen.''

Viehbacher spoke at BIO yesterday, adding his voice to the "deals" chorus for improving drug R&D. Biotech execs are increasingly forming alliances with universities and pharmaceutical companies, says the Globe.

Despite the seeming consensus at BIO, partnerships, mergers and acquisitions may not be the sure bet they appear to be. Pharmalot's Ed Silverman provides some "sobering numbers" from CMR International, a Thomson Reuters company: 55 Phase III drug trials were terminated between 2008 and 2010--more than double that from 2005 to 2007. The number of drugs entering Phase III trials fell by 55 percent in 2010.

"Big Pharma has increasingly turned to doing deals with smaller players to compensate for failures and patent expirations," writes Silverman. But self-originated molecules at Phase III have a 20 percent greater chance of reaching the market than those that were licensed or acquired, the CMR research shows.

Silverman provides an add-on from Nature News Drug Discovery that 44 percent of Big Pharma believe their negotiating business execs surveyed say that their negotiating power with biotechs increased between 2006 and 2010, while 55 percent at biotechs felt that upfront payments have dropped.

- here's the Globe article
- see the Pharmalot story