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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Big Pharma talent has been migrating to biotech startups the past couple years, and that’s good. Lots of people with skills and rare experience are being matched with exciting new opportunities. This dynamic labor market is healthy for the industry, and increases its ability to create innovative healthcare products. Foolishly, some company had to try to squash all that.
Look at some of the high-science, high-risk, venture-backed companies in biotech and you’ll see something that wasn’t so common five years ago. The management teams of these startups are often stacked with people who quit high-paid, high-powered jobs in Big Pharma. Last week, the cancer immunotherapy startup Juno Therapeutics poached a chief scientific officer, Hyam Levitsky, from Roche. Microbiome drugmaker... Read More
Cynicism runs through just about every business, if you read the news or follow pop culture. The Netflix show “House of Cards” portrays dirty politics of Washington, D.C. A new “Entourage” movie delves into Hollywood manipulation. Prosecutors in real life last week showed traders cackling about rigging interest rates that harm millions of people, so they can sail away on... Read More
In my hometown, an insurance company ad campaign pokes fun at locals who commit the fashion faux pas of wearing socks with sandals. We’re all in on the joke. We like living in a place where it’s OK to be quirky and geeky. There’s relatively little pressure to conform. Researchers, too, tend to be an iconoclastic bunch. If they were... Read More
Venture capitalists are notorious for keeping their performance a secret. But an even bigger mystery is who has the power inside firms, and how that gets reflected in their pay. Compensation is a sign of who’s who inside a firm, and what it values. It’s frequently the thing that tears apart firms in both bad times and good. While much... Read More
The late, great columnist Molly Ivins once said there are three ways to evaluate a politician. First, look at the record. Second, look at the record. Third, look at the record. Notice the lack of emphasis on what the politician says. Actions speak. Digital health, for some time, has been one of those areas long on talk and short on... Read More
A strange feeling hit me the other day at one of the world’s great biomedical research centers. There I was, at the end of a long table at MIT, surrounded by two dozen young researchers. While munching sandwiches over the lunch hour, they fired away with questions about the biotech industry. It was a great back-and-forth. The questions were sharp... Read More
Cash is gushing through the pharmaceutical industry at the same time its allies in academia are scraping for every nickel. The gap between these haves and have-nots is wide and getting wider. But at least in a couple recent cases, the poor people in academia have figured out clever ways to get a piece of the biotech action, at least... Read More
Something magical has been happening in Cambridge’s Kendall Square for years. All kinds of biotech companies, big and small, have thrived on it. Now the big guys have to be careful not to squeeze the life out of it. The biotech real estate market in Kendall Square is about as hot as it gets. Genzyme is building a new headquarters along... Read More
Baseball season is here, and I can’t wait. It’s time to draw some analogies between these two passions of mine. Plenty of writers have observed that baseball is basically a microcosm of life in all its messy glory, filled with hope and disappointment. This time of year, the old saying goes, “hope springs eternal.” Fans are optimistic, and maybe even... Read More
Cancer drug developers like to say they follow the science, work well with partners, and that their prices are designed to make sure every patient gets access. But those statements are being put to the test now by combination therapies for cancer, where two or more companies will have to work together in novel ways to make the biggest impact... Read More
If you think people and companies make rational economic decisions in their own self-interest, then you probably reason this must be a great time to be a worker in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. Biotech stocks are way up, investment is flowing, and good new drugs keep hitting the market. As the economic tide rises, logic says companies will compete... Read More