True Promise of Biotech Is Within Reach
While not all biotechs are successful, I believe the impact and success of the biotech industry is clear. Biotech has tackled some of the most difficult and enigmatic problems and diseases, and we have discovered and delivered highly effective therapies.
In 2009, five of the ten top-selling medicines originated in biotech labs, according to a PriceWaterhouse Coopers report. Furthermore, the industry is growing in profitability. According to Ernst & Young’s 2011 “Beyond Borders” report, the global biotech industry had a net profit of $4.7 billion in 2010, which represented a 30% increase from 2009.
Harnessing this positive momentum, we must find ways to fuel more growth and innovation in the biotech sector in order to drive a new era of medicine that will be defined by targeted therapies for diseases and patients—and at an accelerated pace.
The promise of personalized medicine is within our reach—but not yet firmly in our grasp. The tools and techniques for integrating molecular and genetic characterizations of patients and their diseases into drug development are becoming robust and cost-effective enough to enable their widespread use. While characterizing patients’ response to drugs will ultimately simplify drug development, it is increasing near-term complexity.
In order to make personalized medicine a reality, we need extremely well-integrated, multidisciplinary teams to determine how to make sense of massive amounts of molecular and genetic information and to develop strong scientific hypotheses to test in the clinic. In my opinion, the best way to accomplish this is in smaller, focused organizations where discovery, development, informatics, regulatory, and commercial teams interact on a daily basis.
When organizations are being merged, consolidated, and rationalized, and the functions that should be well-integrated are not even in the same physical location, it becomes much more difficult for that integrated thinking and collaboration to happen effectively.
For instance, at Infinity, there is a solid understanding that the different functions are wholly dependent on one another for success. This helps foster an environment where cross-functional teams must value each other’s perspectives and contributions. And, I can see first-hand the tremendous benefits that come from people sitting next to each other or easily sharing a cup of coffee and conversation in our Jazz Café, able to brainstorm and evolve their thinking on weighty topics over the course of each day.