Convergence of the needs of Pharma and Biotech

Convergence of the needs of Pharma and Biotech

The next 12-24 months should be interesting in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. We have the large pharmaceutical companies (such as Abbott, AstraZeneca, Bristoll-Meyers Squibb, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, J&J, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi, and Schering-Plough) holding onto a lot of cash. Yet, large pharma is very cognizant of the number of high profile drugs coming off U.S. patent soon. According to Merck’s industry numbers, drugs coming off U.S. patent in 2011 alone will cause a loss of over $51 billion in revenues in 2011. The following year does not look much better with almost $43 billion in less revenue from drugs coming off patent in 2012. Looked at another way, 85% of the top large pharma products will lose U.S. patent protection by the end of 2012.
So where will large pharma go to replace these lost revenues? While consolidation and acquisitions of large biotech companies (market caps between $5-50 billion) will likely be a partial solution, it is far from a complete solution.
Looking for the Next Blockbuster Drugs
An obvious but difficult way to strengthen revenues is to improve the pipeline that produces blockbuster drugs. Not surprising to many in the industry, the overwhelming majority of top-selling drugs have been developed by companies that were different than the companies commercializing them. According to Merck’s figures of the blockbuster drugs from the last decade,

  • 60% of innovator small molecules,
  • 82% of innovator biologics,
  • 65% of follow on small molecules, and
  • 62% of follow on biologics

were originated in a company other than the company commercializing them. This trend seems like it will continue. With the various numbers I have seen, the revenues from the pipeline of new drugs from large pharma is expected to be less than one third of the anticipated revenues from drugs coming off patent.

Cash Strapped Biotech
On the other end of the spectrum, we have a number of smaller biotech companies that are very short on cash and have a number of products in the pipeline. Earlier this year, many sources noted that more than 1/3 of the public biotech companies had less than six months of cash left to operate. For privately held biotech companies, the news has been similarly bleak with the tight venture capital markets. While the number of small deals, PIPEs, and mergers and acquisitions of biotech firms have picked up some in the last month or two, absent an unanticipated opening of the public markets and significant increases in venture capital or PIPEs, the day of reckoning for many biotechs is coming soon.
Unless of course, large pharma goes on an investment or buying spree in the next 12 to 24 months in an effort to make up their anticipated lost revenues.
Recent articles by Matt Storms

Matt Storms is the president and founder of AlphaTech Counsel, S.C. , which works primarily with high growth companies with operations in the Midwest. In addition to his many articles on WTN News, Matt posts regularly on the AlphaTech blog, which can be found at He can be reached at