Magazine Article | February 25, 2015

Ever Notice How Q1 In Biopharma Provides A Study In Contrasts?

Source: Life Science Leader
Rob Wright author page

By Rob Wright, Chief Editor, Life Science Leader
Follow Me On Twitter @RfwrightLSL

The first quarter in the life sciences industry provides a wonderful study in contrasts. For example, in January at the 33rd Annual J.P. Morgan (JPM) Healthcare Conference, some of the largest pharmaceutical and biotech companies conduct presentations to packed rooms at the Westin St. Francis. Meanwhile, if you walk across Geary St. and into San Francisco’s famed Lefty O’Doul’s Restaurant & Cocktail lounge, you will see some of biopharma’s start-up CEOs conducting multiple meetings in an effort to find funds to fuel their proprietorships. At the same time, at the Parc 55 Wyndham on Cyril Magnin, the Biotech Showcase conference is happening. While Shire’s CEO, Flemming Ornskov, M.D., presents for 25 minutes at JPM in a room that can hold 1,100, at the showcase, Immunocore Limited’s chief business officer, Eva-Lotta Allan, has 15 minutes to convince a room that would burst with 30 people why they should partner and/or invest in her clinical-stage company.

February brings you from the warm weather of the West Coast to the blustery East. The city that never sleeps, New York, plays host to the seventeenth BIO CEO & Investor Conference at the Waldorf Astoria. Boasting 1,400+ attendees from 26 different countries, lesser-known companies like Synthetic Biologics, Durect, Adocia, and Raptor Pharmaceuticals compete for investor ears and dollars during the same time slot allotted for fireside chat participant John Milligan, president and COO of one of the hottest biopharma stocks on the planet — Gilead Sciences.

March is the month when the Drug, Chemical & Associated Technologies Association (DCAT) celebrates DCAT week, March 16 to 19, which also takes place at the Waldorf. Considered one of the largest gatherings in the world for the pharmaceutical and related industries, DCAT week creates peripheral networking and partnering opportunities similar to JPM. For example, Life Science Leader magazine hosts a small, yet popular, gathering known as the annual CMO Leadership Awards on Wednesday evening (March 18) at the “W” Hotel, which just so happens to be right across the street from the Waldorf.

The first quarter of 2015 also has been a study in contrasts when it comes to which companies we’ve featured on the cover of Life Science Leader. January and February featured executives from Pfizer and Astellas — two of the biggest companies in two of the biggest pharmaceutical markets in the world (i.e., United States and Japan). This month, though, we chose a smaller, less well-known, family-owned business — Grünenthal. This company has been doing business for over 70 years in the EU, the second largest pharmaceutical market that’s also one of the most restrictive and challenging. Grünenthal has traditionally conducted business with partners. However, the company’s chief scientific officer, Klaus Langner, is seeking to involve collaborators even earlier than they have in the past. In the article on page 20, Langner shares how the German-based company is building a new entrepreneurial and networked approach to R&D, which in itself is an interesting study in biopharma contrasts.