Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Top Ten IN VIVO Blog Posts of 2007

IN VIVO Blog started up in earnest about eight months ago, and in that time we've racked up hundreds of posts covering a wide variety of topics, like Big Pharma's pipeline troubles, biotech exit strategies, financing, drug regulation, managment succession, and the Philadelphia sports scene. But, you're wondering, what are our favorites? Well, reader, wait no longer. Because to jumpstart your workayear life we've completely unscientifically collected our Top Ten posts of 2007.

You'll notice that there are well more than ten posts below, but we've handily crammed them into a list of ten topics. It's our way of saying "Happy New Year!" or maybe "We can't count!"

10. The Importance of China: we spoke to VCs eager to invest there, we covered a few harbingeresque deals, and we analyzed the country's role as a gene therapy hotspot.

9. RNAi: We broke the news about the next-generation RNA interference company Dicerna, and followed up with news of its Series A & new competition from Nastech spin-out MDRNA. We also covered Alnylam's spectacular platform deal with Roche and AZ/Silence's smaller but important-to-the-biotech alliance.

8. Inhale, Exhale: We had a little fun with Pfizer's inhaled insulin Exubera troubles, like much of the rest of the blogs out there, and we also came through with some more serious content: the Gecko-esque play by Sanofi-Aventis, the ads that couldn't make enough people "get it," and an early look at the numbers that led to the drug's demise. Finally we unpacked some taken-out-of-context quotes that created just one of the several stories this year involving ADA president John Buse, MD.

7. Win Some, Lose Some: Carl Icahn succeeded in getting MedImmune on the block and sold to AZ for a handsome price. But his plans to put Biogen Idec on the block (see more below, in #1) and interest in Genzyme failed to achieve the desired M&A result, so far.

6. Diagnosis Negative: Icahn wasn't the only party rebuffed. Roche spent most of the year getting turned down by Ventana, which played down the pharma's $3 billion offer multiple times. First they said please, then highlighted its belief in the importance of its diagnostics business by promoting its dx head Severin Schwann to CEO of the whole Roche Group. We suggested soon thereafter that Ventana should do the deal, and in late November they indeed decided to at least think harder about it.

5. R&D: As the attempted revitalization of Big Pharma's R&D machines continues we observed that it is business development effectively displacing much of the research infrastructure and decisionmaking, for example at Johnson & Johnson, where that company's drug business has made its chief licensing honcho Tom Heyman head of discovery for the biggest R&D operation in its newly reorganized three-headed drug business. We also predicted, successfully, who might take over as Pfizer's R&D chief, and who the drugmaker could have considered instead.

4. Isn't that Special? We've observed several times the stretching and misappropriating of the label "specialty pharma," and in this post spelled out why many of these would-be specialists might be barking up the wrong tree.

3. Capital Connections: IN VIVO Blog would be less informative and well rounded without our colleagues from The RPM Report, who've written some brilliant posts regarding regulation and policy (not to mention biotech CEO entourages). Lets start with FDA and CMS teaming up against erythropoietin marketers J&J and Amgen, and our series of posts on the subject. And then there's our coverage of the Avandia situation, FDA's leadership, and drug safety.

2. Birth of a Hybrid: Bristol-Myers Squibb's innovative dealmaking this year drew our attention in a handful of posts analyzing the company's business model and dealmaking strategy. First it partnered two late-stage diabetes drugs with AZ, and followed up quickly with a monster deal with Pfizer on its anticoagulant candidate apixaban. Not quite a biotech, not quite a Big Pharma. As we discussed at our PSA conference in September, welcome to the hybrid future.

1. Biogen Idec: Shortly after we broke the news that Biogen Idec was retaining bankers to explore a potential sale of the company, we noted why such a sale, at the company's inflated valuation, wouldn't (or shouldn't) happen.

We look forward to the new year & hope you'll stay tuned. Thanks for reading.

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