Pharma Innovation - Pharmaceutical Technology

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PharmTech Europe

Pharma Innovation
A look at the year's leaders in innovation strategy, including the top bio/pharmaceutical companies and award recipients from AAPS, PhRMA, and CPhI.

Pharmaceutical Technology
Volume 36, Issue 12


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 commitment.

"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."


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