Category Archives: Pharma industry

External Innovation: Force Multiplier For R&D
June 26, 2015

External models of R&D innovation are the rage in Pharma today, as they should be – the future of our industry depends on a great deal more rather than less collaboration. In a very healthy way, lots of experiments are


ASCO 2015: Abstract Thoughts On Cancer And Competition
May 29, 2015

With the start of the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, all eyes in the biopharma investor community are on Chicago. Social media is alive with #ASCO15 tweets and companies big and small are firing out press releases. Signal from

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Data Snapshot: Dwarfed By Big Pharma, Biotech By The Numbers
February 16, 2015

Biotech fills the news these days – whether it’s the announcement of exciting new clinical data, another high-flying IPO, or a big M&A deal. Amidst the significant “share of voice” in the coverage of young and emerging biotech in the

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Infusing Biotech With Young Blood
January 30, 2015

This blog was written by Michael Gladstone, Principal at Atlas Venture, as part of the “From the Trenches” feature of LifeSciVC. Youth is often well represented among entrepreneurs – except in biotech. William Osler, founder of Johns Hopkins University and the


Things I Expect To Hear At #JPM15
January 9, 2015

Are you ready for the circus?  Next week’s JPM Healthcare Conference is getting ready to kickoff, and much of the healthcare industry is feverishly preparing their materials for the mayhem. Given the biopharma industry pipeline’s exciting clinical progress, a record-breaking

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A Billion Here, A Billion There: The Cost Of Making A Drug Revisited
November 21, 2014

The cost of making a new drug has grown to nearly $2.6B, according to the latest and greatest from Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development (here).  That’s a big and almost unfathomable number.  Critics immediately pounced on it,


Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Big Pharma Execs Taking The Biotech Plunge
October 6, 2014

That’s the dilemma facing drug hunters as leadership roles in biotech become more and more attractive.  You may have noticed that more and more seasoned pharma executives are making the move from big pharma or big biotech to lead small

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Talent Acquisition: Pharma Is The Lifeblood Of Biotech
May 19, 2014

Startup Biotechs need bigger drug companies for lots of things, including R&D collaborations, investments, non-dilutive funding, and eventual liquidity via M&A. The health of today’s ecosystem depends on biotech and pharma working together. But one of the most important and


Risk: A User’s Guide For Drug Developers
May 14, 2014

In my last post, I argued that the key to the success – and perhaps even the survival – of the biopharma industry is to excel at risk management. We are in an inherently risky business, where there are thousands of


FLINT, NASH, And Biotech: How Big Things Happen
May 6, 2014

On January 9th, 2014, Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT) released a very interesting piece of news regarding their Phase 2 FLINT (Farnesoid X Receptor Ligand Obeticholic Acid in Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis Treatment) trial.  FLINT, a test of their FXR agonist obeticholic acid (OCA)

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Transformational Late Stage Drugs Delivered Through Deal-Making
March 21, 2014

Today’s biopharma industry has a richer and more exciting late stage pipeline of compelling new therapeutics than its had in years, drawing lots of enthusiasm from analysts and investors.  Goldman Sachs (GS) recently published a report on the “10 drugs


Unlocking The Promise Of Biotech Startups: Learnings From Mars, Goliath, and Evolution
March 5, 2014

As an early stage biotech investor, the future of the industry and its structure are clearly important things to think about – especially since most of the drug programs our new startups are working on won’t get launched, if they


JPM 2014: Broad Optimism About Biotech Innovation
January 17, 2014

The annual biotech pilgrimage to San Francisco has come to an end, and the upbeat, optimistic sentiment from #JPM14 bodes well as a barometer of the healthcare industry. Amidst the presentations and partying, there was lots of bullish thinking about

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Perspectives on VC-Backed Biotech: Looking Backward & Forward
January 3, 2014

Tis the season for reflecting and predicting, so I figured I’d follow the custom and share some of my thoughts about the state of biotech in 2013 and the year to come. Reflections on 2013. The Biotech IPO Returns.  This


If I Were A Big Pharma Head of R&D…
August 5, 2013

The Pharma R&D model is certainly suffering, and the industry’s pandemic sickness is best embodied by “Eroom’s law” of ever-decreasing R&D productivity. But it’s a lot easier to diagnose this disease than it is to prescribe a medicine. In fairness,


The Nimbus Experiment: Structure-Based Drug Deals
June 27, 2013

A couple years ago we unveiled a new startup called Nimbus Discovery LLC which was experimenting with a new model that combined three key elements: Schrodinger’s cutting edge in silico drug screening and design platform, a truly virtual and globally

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Welcoming Amgen & Novartis As Partners In Atlas IX
May 16, 2013

Today we announced a pair of Corporate Strategic Partnerships (CSPs) with Amgen and Novartis, as part of our closing of Fund IX, with the aim of working closely with them during our venture creation process of starting new biopharma companies. 


Phil Needleman’s Ten Commandments of Drug R&D
March 27, 2013

Pharmaceutical R&D is a very low velocity, high cost process, which makes it hard for any individual to gather the large body of experience required to inform better decision-making.  This is why pharma’s embedded institutional knowledge should be the source


Early Stage Biotech Showing Positive Signs of Scaling Its Wall of Worry
January 15, 2013

As 2013 begins, and the JPM conference is behind us, it’s a great time to reflect on the state of the biotech industry and the sentiments around early stage investing in particular.  While pessimism abounds in many corners about the


JPM Takeaway: Pharma Wants to Engage Earlier & More Actively
January 11, 2013

Most of the news flow around the JPM Healthcare conferences centers around the main event: public companies presenting their earnings forecasts, R&D updates, new partnering deals, and the like.  There’s also a small private company track at JPM, and there are


Celebrating 2012’s High Innovation Quotient Deals
December 21, 2012

Innovation paid dividends in 2012.  We often debate the relative “innovation quotient” of the companies we evaluate and invest in here at Atlas, and of the biomedical sector as a whole. The basic premise we hold is that high innovation


NextWave of Pharma Innovation?
November 8, 2012

Medical innovation is the key to addressing the big unmet needs in neurodegeneration, metabolic and heart disease, cancer, among many other conditions.  Not only do new therapeutics and devices aimed at this diseases offer clinical promise, but they also can


Big BioPharma Stock Buybacks: Are There Better Alternatives?
August 22, 2012

Big Pharma remains a highly profitable cash cow in spite of its well-known R&D challenges and perennial patent cliffs.  One of the biggest questions their Boards must wrestle with is what to do with all the cash. In recent years,


Cancer Drug Targets: The March of the Lemmings
June 7, 2012

Just in time for the annual ASCO cancer circus, PhRMA released a new report listing the nearly 1000 projects in the industry’s pipeline for oncology – it’s an impressively long list against a whole range of cancers.  And this should


Contrarian Opportunities in Biotech Venture
June 2, 2012

Pharma have been retooling their therapeutic strategies and R&D priorities considerably over the past decade, shifting in and out of various disease areas.  As they are the eventual home for many of the biotech programs we and other early stage


Culture as a Culprit of the Pharma R&D Crisis
April 19, 2012

Everyone knows about the Pharma industry’s R&D productivity woes, but few seem to have solutions that work. Part of treating the problem requires an accurate diagnosis, and this winter’s work in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery by Scannell et al from


Corporate Pharma VCs: Preferred Partners, Big Funds
January 23, 2012

Corporate venture capital’s role in the new biotech ecosystem couldn’t be understated today.  They are a major syndicate partner for those of us in the early stage arena, and we couldn’t power up our startups without them. I’ve written on


Biotech’s Glass Half Full for 2012
January 2, 2012

Happy New Year! Its another January and we’re taking stock of last year and pondering the one before us. Reflecting on the Life Science landscape, there are a number of good reasons to be optimistic about where things are today:


Culprits of Biotech’s Malaise: Let’s Also Look in the Mirror
October 12, 2011

Malaise and despair seem to have taken over the biotech venture and startup community of late. “Venture’s stress” is the cover story of BioCentury.  Biotech VCs are so distraught they are taking the case to Washington DC to lament the fate


Early Stage Biotech Financing: Fewer, Leaner, and Better?
October 2, 2011

With lots of venture investors fleeing early stage biotech over the past few years, many have questioned where the next vintage of great startup companies will come from.  This theme was touched on a few weeks ago in my post


Debunking Corporate Venture Capital in Biotech
September 25, 2011

Corporate venture capital’s rise to prominence in biotech over the past few years is now a well worn subject.  It was yet again debated this week at the Windhover PSA meeting, in part triggered by the recent widely-covered launch of

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Our Shrinking Biopharma Ecosystem
September 9, 2011

The sustainability of the biopharma sector depends on a continual flow of new startups to both feed Big Pharma’s pipelines and to create the next generation of emerging mid-cap companies.  At the BioPharma America conference this week, several panelists asserted


The Long Term Bullish Case for Pharma
August 26, 2011

Not a day goes by that pundits aren’t bemoaning the struggles of the drug industry: R&D productivity declines, FDA uncertainties, restructurings and downsizings, payor and reimbursement dynamics, pricing pressures, generics and patent cliffs, etc…   Many critics worry about  slowing growth


Celebrating 1H2011′s New Drug Approvals (sort of)
July 27, 2011

The FDA approved 20 new molecular entity NDAs in the first half of 2011, which is an impressive count.  Of the 20, eighteen are new therapeutics (two were diagnostic reagents).  This number of approvals is exciting, especially since in 2011

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Change Starts at the Top: Imperative to Bring Biotech Voices to Pharma Boardrooms
July 19, 2011

Most of Big Pharma have been trying to reinvent themselves as nimble Biotechs, at least in the eyes of Wall Street, in order to be perceived as being innovative R&D-driven companies.    Despite the restructurings, Big Pharma is struggling with that


Academic-Pharma Deals: A threat or opportunity for VC?
April 19, 2011

Academic-industry partnerships are popping up all over the place these days to fund early stage programs as part of ‘”open innovation” initiatives and “external sourcing” of new pipeline projects.   Here’s a non-exhaustive list of a few such deals this year


CROs as “change-makers” in the Pharma ecosystem
April 13, 2011

Contract Research Organizations (CROs) have historically been sleepy fee-for-service partners for the drug industry, widely disregarded as not innovative, and their scientists certainly not treated with the same professional respect as their counterparts in Pharma R&D. But this is clearly


Biotech Dwarfed by Pharma R&D
March 21, 2011

Lots of folks have been talking about the demise of Pharma R&D spending, especially with the recent cuts at Pfizer, GSK, and others.  But the truth is far from that, as they still spend an enormous sum and dwarf the


Choose your Own Numbers: Crowdsourcing the Cost-to-Produce a new Drug?
March 9, 2011

Slate’s piece on drug costs has really caused some fun and excitement in the life science community.  For those that haven’t followed, Tufts Center for Study of Drug Development published a widely cited number in 2003 of $800M+ to bring