Strategies for Preferred-Provider Partnerships - Pharmaceutical Technology

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Strategies for Preferred-Provider Partnerships
The author examines recent examples of preferred-provider collaborations.

Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 36, Issue 2, pp. s6-s12

Other relationships

Although the high-profile deals with the pharmaceutical majors garner much of the attention in preferred-provider partnerships, smaller bio/pharmaceutical companies also may use this model with their outsourcing partners. For example, in January 2012, AMRI, a contract research and manufacturing organization, entered into a preferred-provider agreement with BioPontis Alliance, an asset-based investment capital fund and R&D company that has scientific alliances with research universities. BioPontis focuses on developing treatments for cancer, neurology, inflammation, and infectious diseases.

The BioPontis Alliance has agreements with New York University, Columbia University, Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania, University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), University of Virginia, University of Kansas, Oregon Health and Sciences University, Thomas Jefferson University, and the University of Florida. In addition to these partnerships aimed at identifying early technology, BioPontis has entered into preferred-partnership agreements with pharmaceutical companies, including Janssen Biotech (wholly owned by Johnson & Johnson), Pfizer, and Merck & Co.

The goal of the BioPontis Alliance is to identify promising early-stage product opportunities and use a preferred network of CROs and research companies to apply appropriate expertise to develop these opportunities enough to attract pharmaceutical companies as licensing partners. Under BioPontis Alliance's agreement with AMRI, AMRI will provide its services in small-molecule discovery, development, and manufacturing in support of BioPontis' drug-discovery research programs and need for proof-of-concept data that is required for pharmaceutical-company licensing.

In September 2011, the regenerative-medicine company Mesoblast and Lonza entered into a strategic alliance for clinical and long-term commercial production of Mesoblast's off-the-shelf (allogeneic) adult stem-cell products. The alliance provides Mesoblast with certainty of capacity to meet long-term global supply of its proprietary Mesenchymal Precursor Cell (MPC) products. Under the agreement, Lonza will supply Mesoblast's clinical and long-term commercial MPC product needs globally. Mesoblast can trigger a process requiring Lonza to construct a purpose-built manufacturing facility exclusively for Mesoblast's marketed products. In return, Mesoblast will purchase agreed quantities of marketed products from the facility. Mesoblast can exercise its right to buy out this manufacturing facility at a pre-agreed purchase price two years after the facility receives regulatory approval. Mesoblast will have exclusive access to Lonza's cell-therapy facilities in Singapore for the manufacture of allogeneic cell-therapy products, subject to certain exceptions. Lonza will use its proprietary intellectual property to facilitate reductions in Mesoblast's manufacturing costs and help enable development of enhanced second-generation products.

Although not strictly a preferred-provider relationship, contract service providers also may partner in highly strategic ways to expand their range of capabilites. For example, the CMO Kemwell partnered with the contract services business of Boehringer Ingelheim in 2009 for building a biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Bangalore, India. The 15,000-m2 facility was designed for process development, production, purification, and formulation of biologics for early-phase preclinical and clinical studies. The facility consists of a cGMP drug-substance manufacturing facility and a sterile fill–finish facility for drug products with a floor for process-development laboratories to support production of protein therapeutics from mammalian-cell culture or microbial fermentation. Boehringer Ingelheim is contributing cell-line development with its BI Hex technology platform and preferred access to its large-scale commercial production facilities in Europe.


1. I. Read, presentation at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference 2012 (San Francisco, Jan. 10, 2012),, accessed Jan. 20, 2012.


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