In the pharmaceutical industry we talk a lot about two groups: ‘Big Pharma,’ the global giants with massive networks and deep pockets that extend across virtually every therapeutic category; and ‘emerging biopharma,’ the agile start-ups that may have limited resources but they also have huge potential to disrupt the marketplace with innovative new products.
But what about the companies in-between? ‘Mid-size biopharma’ companies aren’t big enough to be considered big pharma, but they’ve outgrown their ‘biotech’ badge, and they make up a large portion of the marketplace.
These mid-sized companies face a lot of challenges as they grow. They generally have well-known products and specific brand leadership that they want to maintain, but they also have their eye set on expanding strategically into new areas, which is not always an easy balance to achieve – especially on a limited budget. While they have more sizable research and development expenditures than biotech companies, they don’t have anywhere near the depth of resources that Big Pharma has access to, which means they have to be very strategic in every decision they make.
This all adds up to a high level of risk and uncertainty for the leaders of these firms who are juggling constant pressure from investors, stakeholders and regulators to make the right decision every step of the way.
Rather than spreading their resources too thin in pursuit of multiple therapeutic areas and efficiency gains, there is another option – partnering with an outside expert. Through these partnerships, mid-size companies can gain access to the experience of a big pharma environment without breaking their budgets. The right strategic partner can give them access to the expertise, resources and technology needed to close their knowledge gaps and improve their level of efficiency, which allows them to expand into new markets with less risk, while still staying true to their core competencies.
Partners ease the growth pains
A good strategic partner who provides an end-to-end solution can bring a range of benefits to biopharma companies:
- The confidence to expand into new therapeutic areas. Most mid-size companies have expertise in one or two core therapy areas, where they have established a leadership position. But in order to grow they need to expand into additional markets or therapeutic segments, where they may lack the expertise necessary to thrive. By working with a strategic partner to implement their R&D initiatives, they can eliminate many of the risks that come with going it alone. These partnerships involve more than just managing clinical trials – though that can be a vital part of it. The right strategic partners will also provide guidance and expertise on everything from effective trial design and implementation, to meeting regulatory requirements, addressing payer concerns, and developing targeted commercialization plans for any market in the world. Through such partnerships, biopharma are better able to maximize the value of their portfolio without sacrificing ownership or control over their products. This gives them the flexibility to spread their risk and to take advantage of a greater number of new development opportunities, thus increasing their long term opportunities for success.
- Predictability and probability of success. One of the biggest challenges for this segment is predicting and managing the flow of resources. Companies need to know exactly what they're going to spend, and what output they're going to get for that spend. A good partner can provide that clarity and predictability of cost by mapping out a roadmap for the project that aligns with their operational budget. This enables them to be more strategic in their planning, optimize their budget, and increase their probability of success.
- The ability to stay focused on core competencies. Biopharma companies are most effective when they are focused on their core strengths. In many case they may want to pursue new therapeutic areas where they don’t expect to be a leader – at least not right away. Through a strategic partnership, they can rely entirely on their execution partner to deliver the trial for registration. In this way they can continue to grow and to maintain a leadership role in their core therapeutic franchise, while testing the water in new areas that could eventually become a part of their long term growth strategy.
- Access to the latest technology. To be competitive, organizations must constantly look for ways to streamline their processes and take advantage of more sophisticated technologies and business practices. But achieving these efficiencies requires a lot of time and resources that most companies just don’t have. With constant pressure to deliver results, biopharma has to be very strict about where they spend their R&D budgets -- and most of that money is earmarked for drug development, not IT infrastructure or change management initiatives. Through strategic partnerships, you can take advantage of their partners’ streamlined business processes and state-of-the-art IT infrastructure, thus lowering costs, time to market, and put-off technology upgrades until a later date.