Fiction, as pharma has been here for years. Eli Lilly's ($LLY) Chorus group formed in 2002 and uses a virtual model to advance molecules from Lilly's pipeline and other sources through proof-of-concept in a lean fashion. Chorus can seed other virtual groups with compounds that have already passed PoC testing, and former executives from the Lilly unit have gone on to replicate parts of the model with their own lean development group.
Chorus alumni Michael Clayman and Neil Bodick went on to form Flexion Therapeutics in 2007, with Flexion using a highly virtual approach to advance its pipeline.
More recently, AstraZeneca ($AZN) launched its virtual neuroscience team and has adopted some of the clinical project-management technology from Deloitte, which used similar tech to outfit Chorus, AZ's John Reynders told FierceBiotech. For AZ, the choice to transform neuroscience R&D into a virtual effort enabled the company to keep a footing in the highly risky field while boosting its focus on tapping hot science from external sources such as academic labs and biotechs.