Xconomy is hosting a forum this Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, Massachusetts on the state of the pharmaceuticals industry. Ahead of the event, I interviewed Luke Timmerman, national biotechnology editor at Xconomy. You can listen to the entire interview by scrolling to the bottom of this post and clicking on the embedded player. A partial transcript is below.
Full disclosure: Since Schwartz Communications has a track record in pharma pr, the Agency is an underwriter for the event. If you are planning to go, we look forward to seeing you there.
The event is scheduled for Wednesday, November 4, 2009 from 2:00 till 6:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, Mass.
Ross: There’s a little bit of a synopsis on the Xconomy.com website about this event next week. What is the current state, in your estimation, of the big pharma industry in the United States?
Luke: Well the big story for big pharma for a number of years has been this patent cliff that their facing over the next few years. The latest estimate that I’ve seen is that something like $137 billion worth of drug revenue is going to be subject to generic competition. So that’s a big segment of the industry that’s going to go away, and so they need to come up with new drugs to fill up their pipeline. And the big companies through various mega mergers have had a hard time doing that and so they’ve been looking to do more partnerships, more venture investing, forming all kinds of relationships with smaller biotech companies that have a lot of innovative things that might be able to light a spark in their pipeline.
Ross: In terms of regions of the country, I know that you’re based on the west coast, but Boston has always been an area that has fostered a lot of innovation within the pharma industry. Is that a fair assessment?
Luke: Oh, absolutely. It’s got the kind of core academic strength with all the great institutions there: Harvard, MIT, MGH, etc. And a lot of the big pharma companies for probably the last 10 years have been setting up research centers in the Boston area to put their own scientists close to a lot of that academic activity, hoping that some of it might rub off, you know when they attend seminars and events. But we’re seeing even more, we’re seeing new trends actually, in terms of increased activity with pharma companies investing in biotech and doing more partnerships with a lot of the biotech companies that are there in Boston as well.
Ross: I know that you’re going to be actually in Cambridge, Massachusetts (right next to Boston) next week for this forum. As an attendee coming to the forum, what would be kind of your expectation of a good question to ask of the panelists? What do you expect to see next week at this forum?
Luke: I think people will want to know about what technologies actually can improve the success rate in drug development. This is one of the big problems, even despite all of the information that we have from the genome and various technologies that you read about. The fact remains that about only one out of every 10 drugs that enters clinical trials ever makes it all the way trough FDA approval. And a lot of effort is going into determining which patients are more likely to respond to certain therapies. So I think that a lot of people want to know what can pharma do to really increase its success rate in development, which in turn ought to bring down the cost of development and make them just a lot more efficient.
Ross: You know one of the things that I love about these events, you know I was at the XSITE event that happened back in June at Boston University, is the fact that there’s so much optimism at these events and certainly while there’s been a lot of talk about big pharma and it's going to lose a lot sales to generic drugs and generic pharmaceuticals. Certainly one of the themes to take away form this event, without question, is optimism in the market and innovation that is still happening.
Luke: Yeah, absolutely. If you just look at the quarterly earnings reports or the venture financing statistics, the overall trends aren’t that great, we are in a recession after all. But it doesn’t really change the fact that a lot of innovative, exciting things are still happening in the labs and coming out of them with commercial potential and we see that all the time. Companies like Aileron, a couple others that are going to present here are AVEO Pharmaceuticals and Enlight Biosciences, Hydra Biosciences. Hydra has a portfolio of drugs for pain that are supposed to have the power of morphine but without the narcotic side effects. So there’s just a lot of exciting ideas like that in the Boston area and we’re excited to be able to showcase them.
Ross: It should turn out to be a pretty good event. Well, Luke Timmerman, national Bio Technology editor at Xconomy thanks so much for joining us today and giving me a review of the industry and what to expect next week.
Luke: Great, Thanks a lot Ross, looking forward to it.
Ross: It’s the Xconomy forum, Pharma’s bet on Boston innovation. It’s scheduled for Wednesday November 4, 2009 from 2:00 till 6:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Tags: biotech PR, biotechnology PR, pharmaceutical PR, pr pharmaceuticals, Xconomy
Posted by Ross Levanto on November 2, 2009 at 2:52 PM