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The Editors blog

An inside look at what’s happening within the pharma industry and across the PMGroup from the PMLiVE editorial team

Moving parts

We end 2013 with reports suggesting that pharma is still 'weathering the storm'

So we end 2013 with a mixed picture of industry research from Deloitte and Thomson Reuters who, although they've tracked a fourth consecutive annual decline in returns from R&D investments, still pronounce the leading companies to be 'weathering the storm'.

Nevertheless, as launch costs rise, late-stage failures hit harder and 'efficiencies' take longer to kick-in, it's not a pretty picture - and it's one that the last month is far from alone in replicating in miniature.

This time around Bristol-Myers Squibb became the latest company to reassess its research investments when it came to the conclusion that focusing on its late-stage pipeline is more important than 'broad-based' drug discovery work in hepatitis C, diabetes and neuroscience.

Meanwhile, costly phase III failures arrived in the shape of Lilly's depression drug edivoxetine and GlaxoSmithKline's highly anticipated new coronary heart disease drug candidate darapladib, which both flunked late-stage trials.

But there was another, more positive, trend that could be picked out as firms continue to seek out external talent, with major partnerships signed by Roche and Celgene in November. Meanwhile, the industry's engagement with early-stage biotech continued as two new companies joined Merck Serono's biotech incubator in Israel.

Proof perhaps that, although the storm may never really be over, pharma continues to take a wide view on how to approach its research dilemma.

This article first appeared as the editor's comment in PME December 2013.

Article by
Dominic Tyer

editorial director of PMGroup

17th December 2013

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