Guest Post by Adelene Q. Perkins, CEO of Infinity Pharmaceuticals: The Seeds of Innovation – A Case for Independent Biotechs
The Massachusetts life sciences industry is a leader among the nation’s biotech hubs. We are home to the country’s largest concentration of biotech R&D, with Massachusetts-headquartered companies accounting for about 10 percent of the U.S. drug development pipeline and 5 percent of the global pipeline.* The therapies developed here are already making an important impact on millions of patients worldwide, spanning therapeutic areas such as cancer, cystic fibrosis and hepatitis C, with additional clinical candidates from Massachusetts-headquartered companies pending regulatory approval.
Given the intense, dynamic pressures of today’s economic and healthcare environments, how can we sustain the remarkable level of achievement that has defined and elevated this region’s biotech industry for decades? One of the key steps we can take is to work deliberately to ensure that there remains a path, for those biotechs who chose to do so, to remain independent.
Fueled in large part by big pharma’s desire to fill dwindling pipelines and overcome the fading blockbuster model through strategic acquisitions, successful biotech companies are often acquired. For biotechs, the challenging IPO environment and increasingly expensive cost of capital make an acquisition an attractive exit strategy for investors. Often, these acquisitions are inevitable given business constraints and circumstances, and they can yield important advancements that otherwise may not have seen the light of day. Acquisitions can combine big pharma’s resources with biotech’s cutting-edge research in a perfect marriage.
However, there needs to be a path for biotechs to remain independent. The frequency with which acquisitions are occurring may, to the extent that it becomes the only end game, stifle the very innovation that has been both the foundation of our industry and the source of truly novel medicines to treat today’s unmet medical needs.
There’s no doubt that targeted, “personalized” therapies are the future of drug development, driven by increasingly sophisticated translation of cutting-edge technologies into clinical development. Creating commercially successful personalized medicines requires extremely well-integrated, multidisciplinary teams. The teams must have insight on patient needs, the faculty to develop strong scientific hypotheses to test in the clinic and the ability to make sense of massive amounts of molecular and genetic information in determining which patients benefit from specific drugs.
I believe small, focused organizations where discovery, development, informatics, regulatory and commercial teams interact in an integrated way on a daily basis are ideally suited for such a challenging undertaking. When organizations are merged, consolidated and rationalized, functions that should be well integrated often become physically and intellectually disconnected, making it very difficult for cross-functional collaboration to happen effectively.
At Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc., we have been a proud member of the Massachusetts biotech community for a decade. Like most companies in our industry, we’ve experienced the ups and downs associated with the pursuit of bold new frontiers in medicine. Yet, the driving force behind every business decision we have undertaken has remained steady: our long-held vision to build and sustain a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company that can consistently bring important new medicines to patients. To accomplish this goal, we have entered value-enabling partnerships that have provided access to products and capital. In these partnerships, we have maintained full U.S. commercial rights for our oncology and inflammation portfolio, which ultimately will allow us to build a sustainable model where commercial insights and a steady stream of revenue are fed back into the early discovery pipeline. Critically, through the structuring of our partnerships, we have been able to preserve the cross-functional, cross-team collaboration essential to bring truly game-changing therapies to market.
Building a fully integrated, independent biotech company is by no means an easy feat. It requires a great team, a lot of capital and strong science that results in a compelling product portfolio. Yet, as this region knows well, there are distinct benefits that are derived from advancing promising drug candidates in an independent biotech environment. I hope our rich heritage of independent biotechs will remain strong, allowing our region to remain a hotbed of scientific innovation, delivering remarkable advancements for patients for decades to come.
Adelene Q. Perkins, President and CEO, Infinity Pharmaceuticals
Adelene Q. Perkins has served as Infinity’s president and CEO since 2009. She first joined Infinity as chief business officer in 2002 and then served as president and chief business officer of Infinity from 2008-2009. Since joining Infinity, she has played an integral role in developing Infinity’s business strategy, leading the company in its transition from a platform to a product-based organization. She has also been the principal figure in structuring, executing and managing all of Infinity’s innovative strategic relationships, including its global alliance with Mundipharma International Corporation Ltd. and Purdue Pharmaceutical Products L.P. Ms. Perkins has more than 25 years of international business and corporate strategy experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, focused on licensing and business development, strategic finance, product life cycle management, and leading high-caliber, cross-functional teams.
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Posted on May 15, 2012, in Guest Bloggers and tagged Adelene Q. Perkins, Independent Biotechnology Companies, Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Innovation, Personalized Medicine. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.