Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Great minds think alike

Reporting from the 2011 Financial Times Global Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Conference, #ftpharma

By Joyce Tait and Jo Chataway

Several key speakers have been heard echoing major research findings from the Innogen centre at the Financial Times Global Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology conference this week, where David Cameron announced significant support for the life science industry sector.

Pharma-agro synergies

The keynote by Dr. Jörg Reinhardt, Bayer HealthCare AG, highlighted the potential benefits for Bayer of having retained its pharmaceutical and agro-biotechnology divisions within the same company, unlike all the other multinationals who split the two components in a variety of demergers and mergers around 2000. Innogen researchers commented on Bayer’s strategy and predicted that the most likely benefits would be realised through research-related synergies, a point stressed during this conference.

(Tait, J., Chataway, J. and Wield, D. (2002) The Life Science Industry Sector: Evolution of Agro-Biotechnology in Europe. Science and Public Policy, 29(4), 253-258.)

Smart regulation

Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the US Food and Drugs Administration, pointed to the need for centres of excellence in regulatory science to develop better bridges from a good idea to a product. The last decade of Innogen research supports this call, given the negative impacts on innovation of the expensive and time consuming regulatory regimes that govern most life sciences.

New and innovative regulation could lead to products that are still safe and effective but reach the market faster and at a reduced cost. Several multinational companies have recognised this need for some time - and although some regulators are now also beginning to think along these lines, there is not yet impetus for regulatory reform from Europe.

(Tait, J. with Wield, D., Chataway, J. and Bruce. A. (2008) Health Biotechnology to 2030. Report to OECD International Futures Project, “The Bio-Economy to 2030: Designing a Policy Agenda”, OECD, Paris, pp 51.)

Public private partnerships (PPPs)

New and intensified collaboration across public and private sectors is at the heart of the government's new life science strategy. This is an area in which Innogen has particular expertise and has contributed insights into the way PPPs function and collaborate. One particular issue we have focused on is the need to better harness learning opportunities that exist between PPPs operating in developing countries and those in developed countries.

(Mittra, J. (2008) Impact of the Life Sciences on Organisation and Management of R&D in Large Pharmaceutical Firms, International Journal of Biotechnology, Vol 10, No 5, pp. 416-440.

Chataway, J. et al (2010) Global health social technologies: Reflections on evolving theories and landscapes, Research Policy, Vol 39, No 10, pp. 1277-1288.)


Anonymous said...

interesting post but raises few questions. Every one knows and agree we need strong regulation but nobody knows how to achieve that. In case of PPP it is important to understand limitations before celebrating it as a new panacea. regarding Bayer's strategies any examples of synergy will be useful to reinforce the point.

Joyce Tait said...

Thanks to Anonymous for the questions. On regulation there are a lot of piecemeal changes to regulatory systems that will make a small difference, but probably not enough to get the necessary sea-change in levels of innovation coming out of fundamental life science. Hence the need for more research on 'regulatory science' as advocated by Margaret Hamburg. I can't speak for Bayer on where they see the synergies, but one area might be the ability of synthetic biology to deliver novel traits and capacities to plant and animal cells.

sbo said...