J&J fielding four global deal teams to scout early-stage drug prospects

Johnson & Johnson never has made much of a mark in the sphere of early drug development. Where it has performed brilliantly is in the late-stage field, where buyouts of companies like Cougar Biotechnology (Zytiga) delivered major new products for the pharma giant. But now J&J ($JNJ) is thinking globally and acting locally, creating a plan to become a more prominent player in the field of translational medicine by setting up deal teams in four biotech hotspots around the world.

These business development teams--each staffed by 15 to 20 science, licensing and business development experts--will be tasked with creating collaborations among academics and biotechs offering potential new advances on a slate of life science efforts, from drugs to devices and diagnostics.  The "innovation centers" will be based in Boston, San Francisco (with a San Diego satellite), London and China.

"We want to be partners when they emerge in academics, during the venture capital rounds," J&J pharma chief Paul Stoffels told Bloomberg. "We have a lot of known-how we can deploy. We want to be part of the whole process, which typically takes years."

Johnson & Johnson is following a path blazed by Pfizer ($PFE), GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and other Big Pharma companies, which have been setting up similar translational efforts at major academic centers. J&J also recently joined an effort spearheaded at Index Ventures aimed at investing in start-ups, with an eye on identifying big new products early on. Janssen Research & Development also opened a 30,000-square-foot life science innovation center located within the company's Janssen West Coast Research Center in San Diego.

- here's the press release
- read the Bloomberg report
- see the Reuters story

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