Barriers falling between pharma and academia

Big Pharma is going back to college. With analysts eager to highlight the deficiencies of their pipelines, major companies like GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Pfizer have been signing up with academic researchers to explore new avenues of drug development. GSK's $25 million deal with Harvard followed collaborations involving Columbia University and four colleges are now working with Pfizer on new therapies for diabetes. According to the Financial Times, universities are now the next-gen labs of Big Pharma.

But that's not the only change. Insiders note that these new agreements between academic research groups and industry are much better at outlining patent rights as well as publication rights.

"In the past, academics thought that pharma companies were too secretive, while pharma companies thought that academics lacked a firm understanding of the proprietary perspective and what it takes to move drugs from the laboratory into the clinic," says Corey Goodman, who leads the Pfizer Biotherapeutics and Bio Innovation Center. "Both sides have gotten over their hang-ups and have now realized that we need to break down the barriers."

It's also been widely noted that after years of eroding federal support for academic research, academic groups need pharma's R&D funds more than ever. 

- read the article from the Financial Times