Piles of books, journal articles, and newspaper exposes have been written about corrupt relationships between drug companies and physicians. The attacks have taken a toll. Big Pharma’s reputation is somewhere in the gutter with Big Tobacco. While I see much admirable public-service journalism in exposing wrongdoing in science and medicine, this result strikes me as an overreaction. Pharma and biotech companies often... Read More
One day as a young reporter, I’m not sure exactly when, I got hooked on biotech. My guess is it might be the time I pushed aggressively, to the annoyance of my editors at the time, for a front-page, three-part series at my newspaper about what a guy named Jim Thomas was doing. Thomas worked at Immunex, a Seattle company... Read More
Way back in the day, the late 1990s, companies ran around saying, ‘Holy mackerel, we’re gathering all this cool genomic information. It’s valuable. We’ll sell it and make a bundle.” Almost 20 years later, next-generation sequencers are exponentially better, faster, and cheaper. They pump out vast amounts of genomic information. There are many more companies gathering data, slicing it up... Read More
I’m traveling to Boston next week — let’s meet up at a Kendall Square watering hole. TR subscribers are welcome to stop by for happy hour from 5-7 pm on Wednesday Aug. 5 at Meadhall, 4 Cambridge Center. No tickets are necessary, and whatever you want to eat or drink you can get at the bar. I’m just eager to... Read More
If you give a biotech venture capitalist $1 to invest, odds are that you will wait more than a decade, and get less than $1 back. Along the way, millions of dollars in management fees will be paid for this service. The data on financial performance of venture capital funds are clear, consistent, and lousy when compared in any realistic... Read More
Bad behaviors tend to spread like wildfire during boom times. Lots of people rush into the market and try to strike while the iron is hot. I’ve seen it happen before as a reporter in the dotcom days, and I’m seeing it happen again. I’ll leave it to others to ask whether we are in a bubble, which I find... Read More
One year ago, Amgen said it was shutting down R&D operations in Washington. This was not an ordinary mass layoff. Amgen’s cost-cutting move freed up 660 people in the Seattle biotech cluster, many of whom had rare and valuable skills gained while working on successful drugs like Enbrel and Xgeva. These people had good pay, good benefits, and a beautiful... Read More
There’s good news today for the biotech labor market. AstraZeneca’s MedImmune biologics unit said today that David Berman has joined the company as a senior vice president and head of its Oncology Innovative Medicines unit (iMED). Berman spent the previous decade at Bristol-Myers Squibb, becoming a key player inside the company during its rise to prominence in the hot field... Read More
Yesterday, I published the first half of a two-part series on biotech venture fund performance in the boom. That story included data from venture funds backed by public employees in three states–Pennsylvania, California, and Hawaii. Today, I’m following up with more disclosures from funds in Washington and North Carolina, plus the big California fund that invests retirement savings for schoolteachers.
The biotech boom has been good to many people, but especially to venture capitalists. Many can point to winners in their portfolios. They have seized the moment to raise new funds, collect even bigger management fees, and double down on more cool science and technology companies. As I reported here in March, a few firms, such as The Column Group... Read More
Election season is here, and every day brings a parade of presidential hopefuls, staking out positions along the political spectrum. And, if the early rhetoric is any indication, one of the defining themes of the election will be wealth and income disparity. In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Hillary Clinton said that, although she generally supported the Affordable... Read More
Every day, I think about creating excellent, original journalism for biotech readers who subscribe to Timmerman Report. This isn’t some hopelessly romantic idea. This is a business with legs. For those unfamiliar with what Timmerman Report is about, it’s like making artisanal cheese or fine wine. Considerable craftsmanship goes into creating stories for avid biotech readers who are willing to... Read More
Last month, I wrote about how Big Pharma executives are migrating into biotech like wildebeest across the Serengeti. They aren’t the only big game animals moving in this direction. More than a dozen well-known Wall Street investment bankers and analysts, in the last couple boom years, have quit to join biotech companies. This isn’t exactly unprecedented. The CEOs of Amgen... Read More
Shire has been around for almost 30 years, and last year was probably its biggest in the news. The narrative wasn’t about drugs that help people, but was about corporate tax-avoidance. North Chicago, Ill.-based AbbVie bid $54 billion to acquire U.K.-based Shire, at least partly to re-incorporate in Britain and avoid U.S. taxes through an “inversion.” Public opposition emerged, the... Read More
The sci-fi writer William Gibson once said, “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” That rings true with LinkedIn, at least in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. Some of the most powerful and best-connected people in the business gathered last week in Greece for the annual private summit organized by industry legend Stelios Papadopoulos. This is... Read More
Cubist Pharmaceuticals was a rare company. It found a way to succeed when the prevailing market winds were blowing in its face. When Big Pharma companies abandoned the field of antibiotics, complaining about regulatory and reimbursement challenges, Cubist stuck to its guns. The Lexington, MA-based company, founded in 1992, grew to be the largest independent developer of antibiotics in the... Read More
The good news: My Dad, after a scary health episode, is feeling better. The not-so-good news: The surveillance system for monitoring safety and effectiveness of marketed drugs is still broken. But there is hope.
Word of mouth is spreading about the Timmerman Report among early adopting subscribers. For that, I want to say thanks. So here’s the deal. Existing subscribers of Timmerman Report who successfully encourage at least one friend to subscribe before July 10 will be entered into a drawing for a free Timmerman Report T-shirt. This prize, I’ll have you know, is... Read More
Astrophysicists know that stars and planets, and other observable forms of matter, amount to less than 5 percent of the universe. There’s a whole lot of ‘dark matter’ that’s more mysterious, but which we know is important. The same could be said for human genomes.
This is a time to take a step back and re-think cancer treatment. The exciting new wave of immunotherapy is challenging many basic assumptions about the way cancer R&D gets done. It’s time to re-imagine some of the biology, how we measure success and failure, how investment dollars get spread, and how we ought to pay for the progress.