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March 21, 2011
The Small Drug Companies And the Big Ones
Here's a fascinating post from Bruce Booth on the R&D numbers for Big Pharma versus everyone else. If you had to guess, how much would you put big-company spending up against all the privately-financed startups? How many Lilliputians does it take to outweigh Gulliver?
Well, it turns out that the top 20 pharma companies spend about 26 times the budget of all the venture-backed companies put together. In fact, just comparing Pfizer's R&D budget alone to the universe of privately financed companies suggests that one Pfizer equals about 1000 small biotechs, or about 2-and-a-half times the number that exist today. Sheesh.
There are a lot of other interesting numbers to be found in that post - for example, given reasonable assumptions about facility costs, Big Pharma probably spends as much on its utility bills and building maintenance to fund the entire universe of VC-backed companies today. The whole thing looks very much like a steep power-law distribution to me, and that raises the question that Booth raises himself: how much more bang for the buck are we getting from the small companies, relative to the larger ones?
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