Biotechnology - Matters of efficiency

For the last three years, our Point of view articles have focused heavily on matters of efficiency — the need to do more with less and the measures companies and investors are undertaking to conduct research and development (R&D) more efficiently. This was only natural.


After all, capital efficiency was the topmost concern for industry leaders in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, when a “new normal” emerged for capital markets, characterized by restricted access to funding for smaller companies.


We reviewed in some detail the steps venture capitalists and companies are taking — models such as fail-fast R&D, asset-centric funding and more. While these creative approaches are much needed, they are, as we pointed out in last year’s report, tinkering around the edges of an existing R&D paradigm that is now under unprecedented strain.


Last year, we discussed a model that could radically change R&D by taking a much more holistic approach to drug development, sharing information to learn in real time across the cycle of care and fundamentally changing how risk and reward are allocated. This approach, the holistic open learning network, or HOLNet, involves a broad spectrum of entities (biotech and pharma companies, payers, providers, disease foundations and potentially others) collaborating in “precompetitive” spaces to share data and establish standards. We continue to think that these consortia have the potential to change the R&D paradigm from one that is linear, slow, inflexible, expensive and siloed to one that is iterative, fast, adaptive, cost efficient and open/networked.


In the year since, we have seen HOLNet-like approaches gain traction. A few months after the BIO Convention, 10 of the world’s largest drug development companies combined forces to create TransCelerate BioPharma. TransCelerate aims to make R&D more efficient through initiatives such as developing new standards for recording clinical trials, qualifying trial sites and training investigators.


Several big pharma companies and the Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences formed the DILI-sim Initiative, a pre-competitive partnership, to conduct predictive modeling assessing whether new drug candidates are likely to cause drug-induced liver injury in patients. The modeling software would be made openly available. Meanwhile, a number of other consortia expanded their memberships and/or announced new initiatives. These are all positive developments and we are encouraged by adoption of more open, collaborative, real time approaches to conducting R&D.


Find the complete study in the attached pdf document- Beyond Borders or here