The Price of Togetherness


"The growing demand for drugs in emerging markets means that some of these collaboratively developed drugs may eventually reach much broader audiences, meaning larger populations over which to recoup development costs, bigger opportunities for rare disease indications and acceptable profits even if prices are forced lower."

BioSpace, Karl Thiel

Is togetherness the latest drug? Will touchy-feeliness be the answer to the pharmaceutical industry's crisis of productivity? Collaboration certainly isn't anything new in the life sciences, but the nature and structure of partnerships is evolving to the point that many companies are now contemplating pooling their resources. . .and diluting their returns.

Certainly the past decade has been marked by more partnerships between industry and academia, where there has been an effort to find a win-win solution to academia's funding deficits and pharma's desire to get more helping hands in early innovation.

Out of this have grown "open-source" research efforts that use pharma's financial backing to create or aggregate data any researcher can use. Sage Bionetworks, a three-year-old Seattle-based non-profit, offers a "commons" of pooled data and resources. Merck has contributed many human and mouse disease models for open consumption. Eli Lilly has opened up its doors to compounds created at academic labs through its PD2 and other Open Innovation Drug Discovery efforts. In 2008, GlaxoSmithKline released over 300 cell lines to the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Bioinformatics Grid, open for academics to mine. The Structural Genomics Consortium is an open-access database of 3-D protein structures that counts Lilly, GSK, Novartis, Pfizer, and most recently Takeda among its members and financial backers. . .View Full Article

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