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Pharma ignores nanotechnology

Big pharmaceutical companies are failing to cash in on the promise of nanotechnology, a report has warned.

Big pharmaceutical companies are failing to cash in on the promise of nanotechnology, a report has warned.

The report, Why Big Pharma Is Missing The Nanotech Opportunity, released by US research and advisory firm Lux Research, found that big pharma companies on average commit 16 people and less than half a per cent of R&D spending to nanotechnology research. In contrast, like-sized electronics and materials firms commit more than 100 people and more than 8 per cent of R&D spending to the research.

Further data gathered from interviews conducted with individuals accountable for nanotechnology at 33 global corporations revealed that no interviewees rated nanotechnology as a high corporate priority compared to 78 per cent of interviewees who worked in electronics and materials.

Matthew M Nordan, vice president of research at Lux Research warned that the findings were worrying for pharma: ìBig pharma is not investing in nanotech today. If this trend continues, nanotech will play out in pharmaceuticals just as biotechnology did, with major pharmaceutical companies leaving money on the table and allowing new competitors to take root.î

ìBig pharma will have to contend with a new wave of superbranded generics that will erode market share. This trend began with the approval of American Pharmaceutical Partners' nano-enabled Abraxane cancer therapy this January,î he added.

The report suggests that organisation, history and hubris are the three main reasons why pharma is ignoring nanotechnology.

However, Nordon revealed that it is not too late for pharma. He revealed that pharma should ìgo on the offensive and acquire competitive capabilities by picking up a nanoscale reformulation specialist,î a tactic that has already been deployed by Irish pharma group, Elan, and US medical devices company, Baxter.

ìWe think Kereos in the US, Nanocarrier in Japan and Solubest in Israel look like prime targets,î he added.

The US National Institutes of Health counts nanomedicine as one of its top five priorities and in October 2004 the US National Cancer Institute has committed $144m to nanotechnology research.

30th September 2008

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