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July 27, 2007
You Discover It, We Sell It. Deal?
There was a comment to the previous post which asked an interesting question: if you look at the best-selling drugs in the portfolios of the major companies, what percentage of them were developed in-house?
I'm sure that someone has already done this analysis, but I haven't been able to lay my hands on it. But in some cases it's a rather embarassing figure - Pfizer, for example, which brings up the question of how you define "in-house" when the house keeps expanding. The rigorous definition - a project (and chemical matter) that started inside the company and went all the way to market - is probably the way to go. A drug that came about through buying a compound, a target, or a whole company doesn't qualify.
It's impossible to talk about this without someone bringing up the idea of a virtual drug company - one that doesn't do any of its own discovery research, but exists to do clinical, regulatory, and marketing. This ideas has been kicking around for fifteen or twenty years that I know of, and probably longer. The best argument I can make against it is that no one's tried it yet. I'd be very surprised if this hasn't been seriously looked at and rejected.
My strong suspicion is that when you run the numbers (how many compounds are available, how much they'd cost, etc.) that you can't quite make it work. Bidding is already expensive for the good stuff, and a company that tried to live only by buying things in would often find itself paying the highest prices possible. And that's assuming that there were enough compounds out there in the first place, no matter the price, and I have my doubts about that, too.
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