Timothy Wright, global head of development
"There is a consensus in the pharmaceutical industry that we need to accelerate the pace of drug development. If we fail to
do so, we won't keep up with the rising health challenges facing our society. Novartis has made good progress with some strong
shifts in our approach to drug development. One shift is to invest in developing multiple indications simultaneously (rather
than serially), where we advance compounds in more than one clinical setting in parallel, thereby increasing the likelihood
that drugs get to patients faster. Once you understand the disease biology and the molecular pathways involved, then each
compound can be tested simultaneously in multiple diseases that share the same pathway. An example is our mTor inhibitor everolimus,
which is now approved in the US for five cancer indications (under the tradename Afinitor) and renal transplantation (under
the tradename Zortress), and our orphan drug Ilaris, originally approved in a very rare genetic disease and now continues
to be developed in larger disease populations, including gouty arthritis and heart disease.
"Another solution to tackling the innovation drought is collaboration and knowledge-sharing. The cost of developing a drug
has risen exponentially. Currently, it takes an average of 10 years and costs on average $4 billion to bring a new therapy
to market. This model is not sustainable. We need to work together across industry, academia, and government to make our innovation
dollars work harder. Only by working together can we make sure new and innovative treatments get to the patients who need
them the most."
Rich Tillyer, senior vice-president, Discovery & Preclinical Sciences, Merck Research Laboratories
"The opportunities for Merck and the pharmaceutical industry to impact human health are real and numerous given the continuing
rapid evolution of biomedical science, but this rapid evolution will not happen without a continued investment in R&D and
emphasis on innovation. Innovation in R&D is a critical success factor and Merck understands that this requires a long-term
"At Merck, our focus lies in developing first- and best-in-class medicines that will make a meaningful difference for patients.
To realize this goal, we need to establish a culture of innovation fueled by collaborations with internal and external partners,
and with a focus on growing talent. We will continue to drive these initiatives in 2013 and beyond to ensure that our pipeline
of candidates remains strong and continues to advance toward the patients who need our medicines."
Marc Bonnefoi, head of the Sanofi North America R&D Hub
"Sanofi is evolving its R&D approach to be able to access the best ideas, science, and people in research. This requires
a combination of both internal and external innovation and is implemented through the creation of geographically focused integrated
research hubs in which Sanofi scientists increasingly partner with external teams. R&D hubs have been created in North America,
with a special emphasis in the Boston area, as well as in Germany and Asia, and a project for implementing a hub in France
is being discussed.
"For many years, the pharmaceutical industry designed drugs from biological targets that were not always well validated and
in areas where the path to clinical proof-of-concept and ultimate validation in patients was uncertain. We screened scores
of molecules to see whether they had any effect on different disease models that were often incompletely qualified. There
were too many assumptions regarding the biology of diseases. Today, we seek to begin with an understanding of the underlying
cause(s) of a given disease and work to develop a solution to interfere with that process.
"We are trying to integrate a translational approach to these efforts, applying the knowledge from patient populations and
medical experience much earlier in the R&D processes. To make these translational research efforts a reality, Sanofi is using
the ability to translate to the patient situation as a yardstick to judge the quality of projects. None of this can be done
by Sanofi R&D alone: we have great people and fantastic ideas, but no one organization can single-handedly tackle the complexity
of human chronic diseases, which remain beyond our reach at the moment. By effectively implementing open innovation and raising
the bar for projects to be accepted into development and reach further investment milestones down the road, Sanofi expects
to create one of the best portfolios in the industry."