The Woes of R&D

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By Russ Ward (@russcward)

The most recent McKinsey Quarterly offered a report called “The Road to Positive R&D Returns.” Essentially, it said that traditional small molecules are no longer a viable business plan for pharma companies, and that they can’t hang their hats on biologics either, because they’re running into many the same issues with development vagaries and generic competition.

What they should do instead, the report offered: work cheaper and faster. Well… yeah. A slightly anticlimactic conclusion, no? (Although it is a good article.) But is it possible to get at least a little more specific?

R&D often includes in-licensing, out-licensing and other types of deal-making. It’s not really a question of not being able to get the information to make a good decision to be successful at licensing and acquisition; it’s more about the intake and synthesis and processing of all that information.

  • Is there a pharma L&A network for the executives, lawyers, researchers and analysts involved in this field? You should be building one. Gather them up, get them together, get them sharing best practices. The challenge is to do that with the knowledge that they’re all in an ongoing sprint to the next great deal – but it’s possible to learn from each other while still competing with each other.
  • How mobile is the access to all of this information? To borrow the tagline, is there an app for that? If not, why aren’t you working on one?
  • Take a look at all of the research analysis services and products – and then talk to the people who use them. What’s on their wish list? What’s the killer app for L&A – and why haven’t you made it yet?

But R&D is, of course, fundamentally about research and development – scientists in labs. What are the opportunities there?

  • Have you ever spent a day in a research lab? You probably haven’t, and moreover, your clients probably haven’t, either. Do some networking, make some connections, sign some NDA’s, and see where the magic really happens. Speak to the men and women who spend their careers doing miraculous things. Find out what has changed the most in their careers, what now takes half the time it used to, and what still slows them down. You’ll probably be surprised how similar to a clinically practicing physician these problems are. Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork.
  • Go to where scientific passion intersects with an inborn use of technology – youth. Visit students. They may very well be rigging up technology-enabled solutions to help them through school that their professors and role models would benefit from.

How can your creative development meet the needs of R&D?




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