The synergistic relationship between biotech’s and biopharma’s can dramatically change the way new drugs and vaccines are bought to market – helping advance innovation on BOTH sides in a very mutually beneficial way. I’ve got an inside look at how Pfizer is working with emerging biotech start-ups, thanks to this in-depth chat with Pfizer’s Senior Vice President of Business Innovation, Kathy Fernando.
Kathy is not only responsible for developing relationships with biotech’s on behalf of Pfizer, BUT during the pandemic she led Pfizer’s mRNA scientific strategy, which was integral to its ability to rapidly develop the Covid-19 vaccine. We geek out on the “cool science” that mRNA is – AND the new platforms that biotech’s are bringing to the table – and talk about the impact both are making on the business of Big Pharma, the hot biotech investment space, and, most importantly, patients.
We also get into a bigger conversation about innovation in the Life Sciences industry – with great insights that can be extended to the rest of healthcare quite easily. I ask point blank: Pfizer is a gigantic, global biopharma company…Why wouldn’t it do these types of innovations internally, in-house themselves? Why partner outside?
Kathy explains the magic that is unlocked when a “market force” partners with a “market mover” for the sake of innovation, and the lessons learned are far reaching and applicable no matter where you are in health innovation.
How is Pfizer looking at new models for collaborating with biotech companies? What are the key characteristics of Pfizer’s culture of innovation that have newly emerged or deepened as a result of their work on the Covid vaccine during the pandemic? We dive deep into the biopharma-biotech model and all it brings in terms of new science, breakthrough therapies, and brand-new business opportunities. Watch now!
In a piece just posted at TheAtlantic.com, I discuss what I see as the next great quest in applied science: the assembly of a unified health database, a “big data” project that would collect in one searchable repository all the parameters that measure or could conceivably reflect human well-being.
I don’t expect the insights gained from these data will obsolete physicians, but rather empower them (as well as patients and other stakeholders) and make them better, informing their clinical judgment without supplanting their empathy.
I also discuss how many companies and academic researchers are focusing their efforts on defined subsets of the information challenge, generally at the intersection of data domains. I observe that one notable exception seems to be big pharma, as many large drug companies seem to have decided that hefty big data analytics is a service to be outsourced, rather than a core competency to be built. I then ask whether this is savvy judgment or a profound miscalculation, and suggest that if you were going to create the health solutions provider of the future, arguably your first move would be to recruit a cutting-edge analytics team.
The question of core competencies is more than just semantics – it is perhaps the most important strategic question facing biopharma companies as they peer into a frightening and uncertain future.
Reviewing “The Myth of The Paperless Office” for the New Yorker in 2002, Malcolm Gladwell argued that if the computer had come first, and paper didn’t exist, someone would have had to invent it. Paper, it turns out, is a lot more useful than we typically appreciate.
It occurred to me that perhaps the same might be said of another product we seem to take for granted in the digital age – medicines. (Disclosure: I work at a company that makes them.)
Medicines – you know, those little white pills that everyone loves to critique – are in many cases remarkably effective solutions to very difficult problems; it’s actually kind of amazing how useful some of these products can be. What an incredibly powerful idea – addressing a difficult and complex health problem with a simple pill you can pop before breakfast.
I read a tweet recently asserting that physicians may soon prescribe health apps as an alternative to medications; my initial reaction: good luck with that one. It’s certainly easy enough to envision how magical thinking about the power of health apps will soon be replaced by disappointment as app developers realize something drug makers have known for years: it’s hard to improve health, and it can be very difficult to get patients to stick with a treatment long enough to make a difference.