It seems as if every day another report is published on the decline of pharma, based on its inability to convert all of the technological innovations from the first decade of the 21st century into new drug therapies. The latest report in this vein comes from the Milken Institute, which captures the angst at a retreat last September in Lake Tahoe. The report touches on the by-now rote moans about the state of medical and life science innovation. But the Tahoe dialogue and the report’s ultimate conclusions are elevated by the presence at this event of disruptive innovators from non-life science industries.
Ultimately this report is less about what is happening than why it’s happening, and it provides some pointed commentary on how the industry can change—and the ramifications if it doesn’t.
The Tahoe attendees blame the status quo for life science’s failure to thrive when it comes to innovation. The leaders at this forum acknowledge that risk aversion drives companies to stick with familiar business models and R&D tools. “Unless we learn to value big, potentially disruptive ideas, we won’t see transformational breakthroughs,” said one scientist. We’ll get the status quo: linear, unproductive drug pipelines; siloed data that fails to support open collaborations and partnerships; and outdated regulatory structures and funding models that stifle R&D.
What can pharma do to leverage disruption?
- Structure itself more openly – more like a tech start-up would.
- Share precompetitive IP, such as research findings about specific drugs and proteins.
- Create an IP escrow account and submit their IP knowing it won’t get shared with others until they deposit their IP into the account.
- Create open collaborative environments around the most challenging disease areas.
- Spur crowds to solve problems.
Our first product (GFF) has at its heart a disruptive concept—that the instincts scientists might have about green fields is more valuable to an organization than the research conducted by patent officers.
What ideas is your organization implementing to disrupt the status quo?