Bilcare Research
Home  |  Media  |  Contact Us
Increase text size Restore default text size Decrease text size
White Papers Case Studies Success Stories Thought Leadership

The Symbiotic Relationship of Big Pharma and Biotech

 Click here to Download PDF

The biotech industry is perceived as the “little guy” in the overall scheme of delivering new medicines. Biotech companies are small and lack resources but are portrayed as quick and agile. They are thought of as decisive, not bureaucratic; scientifically smart, not stuck-in–the–mud. Big Pharma are contrasted as slow Goliaths. It is common to read a commentary on R&D in which Big Pharma is urged to focus on the manufacture and marketing of new medicines and let biotech do innovative research. In fact, many drugs to treat AIDS, cancer, infectious diseases, heart disease etc. have been discovered by Big Pharma.

However, biotech firms do play an important role in the search for new medicines. Start-up companies provide a venue for the exploration of more speculative ideas. The first biotech companies had their roots in bioengineering techniques designed to discover protein therapeutics – work that was outside the scope of Big Pharma. Biotech then moved into other forms of proteinbased therapies such as antibodies. Now small biotech companies can be founded on a whole gamut of new ideas from the exploration of new technology platforms to the search of a small molecule inhibitor of a newly discovered target hypothesized to play a role in the evolution of a specific disease like diabetes.

A mutual dependency has grown between biotech and Big Pharma. This is no surprise. Big Pharma has historically generated about one-third of its revenues from products licensed from other inventors. No matter how much money a company invests in R&D, this is just a small percentage of the funds invested in R&D globally. It is arrogant to believe that any one company has a monopoly on the best ideas. Thus, Big Pharma will often look to biotech companies to help fill its pipeline. But small biotech companies have their own needs. The development of major new medicines is a timeconsuming, expensive and risky endeavor. Most biotech companies do not have the wherewithal to advance a compound beyond the early clinical stages. Thus, they will seek to partner potential new drugs with Big Pharma in order to realize the full potential of these compounds by taking advantage of Big Pharma’s resources, expertise and experience.

In reality, the imaginary line between biotech and Big Pharma is blurring. Big Pharma is now devoting a lot of resources to discover and develop protein therapeutics – a domain that had been exclusive to biotech. Likewise biotech companies are building their capabilities in small molecule drugs. The rationale for this is quite simple. All of these companies are trying to bring new treatments to patients. To treat diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer or diabetes, a patient may require a biologic, a pill, or maybe both. These companies are in search of medical breakthroughs regardless of how they are packaged. One should expect, therefore, that the bond between Big Pharma and biotech will continue to strengthen in the coming years.

About the Author

Dr. John LaMattina

Dr. John LaMattina is the Chairman of the Corporate Advisory Board at Bilcare Global Clinical Supplies (GCS).

Read more >

© , Bilcare Limited. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer Site Map Privacy Policy Content + Design Riteverses