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Fishing for Ideas at Informex USA 2012
By: Rachel L. Grabenhofer
Posted: March 1, 2012
page 4 of 6
In effort to lessen financial constraints, drug discovery, screening methods and modeling, as previously mentioned, are employed to streamline the commercialization process. For example, pharmacodynamic and companion biomarkers are used to provide an early indication of efficacy as well as potential challenges during product development. In relation, according to Thomas Speace, president and CEO of Neuland Technologies, at the February 17 life cycle breakfast briefing, life cycle management can help to maximize revenue potential—and once a new drug is developed and approved, “the competition is on,” he said, “then company must look for ways to cut the budget to pass that on to consumers.”
Another strategy to reduce financial constraints is the development of virtual pharmaceutical companies or companies that rely on outsourcing for almost all their activities that require physical assets or infrastructure. According to one such company,2 these entities are knowledge-based and typically consist of a CEO, CFO, legal counsel and a host of business development and project management specialists. Since these companies do not incur high infrastructure costs, they promise a lower total cost of pharmaceutical development. Typically, a fully virtual pharmaceutical company in-licenses an active pharmaceutical ingredient that is approaching or entering clinical trials and will contract out each stage of future clinical development, including the preparation of the new drug application (NDA). However, as the panel discussion on outsourcing reminded attendees, the products created from outsourcing must be of the same quality, as the outsourced products are an offshoot and represent the parent company.
Setting financial constraints aside, an interesting "case study" on innovation was presented by Victoria Scarborough, PhD, external technology program manager for Sherwin-Williams (SW). She described a "Creative R&D Lab Environment," aka “Cradle,” that the company developed to drive innovation. According to Scarborough, “the Cradle consists mostly of start-up companies from universities that do not have to pay SW to innovate there; the company simply is given the first rights of refusal for the technologies developed.”
Within SW, "communities of practice" have been established whereby experts focused on areas such as titanium dioxide, color and polymers voluntarily join communities to share ideas very casually through and intranet devoted to their community of practice topic. Besides infrastructures built for collaboration, SW tracks its internal product development processes in a database to know what step each project is in; for instance, if a project is in the proof of concept lab. Finally, Scarborough recommended sources to support innovation, such as the Product Development Managers' Association (PDMA), Industrial Research Institute for technology scouts, creating communities within companies based on areas of interest, and even coursework such as that offered by the University of California at Berkeley, which is focused simply on open innovation.