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January 9, 2014
Three Options With Five Billion to Spend
Here's a discussion on a tricky question:
If you had $5 billion to invest, which is the current average R&D spend required to develop and launch just one new drug (without any guarantee of reimbursement and market success), how would you invest it:
1. Directly into your internal R&D pipeline, based on established approaches to drug discovery and development which are currently giving an ROI of only about 5% (and rapidly declining)?
2. Acquiring new product candidates externally, at full market price in an increasingly competitive environment?
3. Building a portfolio of say 50 independent projects to explore completely new and different approaches to drug discovery & development, each with a 2% probability of doubling your ROI indefinitely into the future?
Those alternatives are not exactly phrased in a neutral manner, but they're hard to be neutral about. My take on them is that option (1) is the one that's least likely to get you removed by your board of directors, because it spreads the blame around. Option (2) would be insane, if it were the only thing you did, but perfectly reasonable as a complement to either (1) or (3). And option (3), well. . .the problem with that one is finding 50 "completely new and different" approaches to drug R&D. I don't think that there are that many, honestly. And I also doubt (very strongly) if they all have as much as a 2% chance of succeeding.
So if I were a CEO, and God forbid, I would do enough (1) to buy me some cover, enough (2) to try to keep the Street happy, and spend whatever I had left on (3). I would not, of course, phrase my decisions in those terms. Sound good?
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