Thursday, September 27, 2007

What About Specialty?

We've heard a lot at Pharma Strategic Alliance from the Big Pharma, most especially Bristol-Myers Squibb, about externalization and the attractiveness of speciality markets.

But as bigger players look to fill their pipeline gaps with smaller, niche drugs, they're beginning to compete in a market long dominated by the so-called "spec pharma" players, who've traditionally built their businesses by acquiring and selling under-valued late-stage or marketed assets.

"There's a lot of capital chasing the same assets," notes Jeremy Goldberg, Managing Director of Corporate Development at Endo Pharmaceuticals, which has a handful of products for the treatment of pain. "It's measurably more competitive than it was three years ago," he says.
But Goldberg is confident that his company, at least, won't get shut out of the deal-making game thanks both to its focus and it's smaller size. A new product, notes Goldberg, can make a tremendous difference to his company's growth and top-line, an effect that wouldn't be seen in in a big pharma with a $25 billion revenue stream.

When looking to license, "biotechs need to ask who is the right partner for my asset? In pain, it's Endo," says Goldberg.

Okay, fine. But spec pharmas are certainly under pressure to expand into additional therapuetic areas. Look at Shire's willingness to pay $1.6 billion for TKT in 2005 to move beyond its ADHD franchise via access to biologics. How does a company like Endo become the partner of choice in a therapeutic area that isn't pain?

And will a big deal scare off investors who are presumably very focused on the reliable earnings-per-share returns that a typical spec pharma provides?

It's too soon to say. More than likely we'll be discussing a new business model at next year's meeting.

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