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Ten leading biopharmaceutical companies on Thursday (20.09.12) announced that they have formed a non-profit organization to accelerate the development of new drugs with the name TransCelerate BioPharma Inc.. The initiative will work to ensure that pharmaceutical companies cooperate more closely in the early stages of the research and establish uniform standards.

Boehringer Ingelheim is currently the only German representative of the party. The other nine members are Abbott, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly and Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Roche and Sanofi.

Five projects were selected by the group for the promotion and implementation, including: the development of a common interface for portals to test sites; the mutual recognition of qualifications of study and training centres; the development of a risk-based approach and standards for site monitoring, and the establishment of a supply model for drugs comparison.

Commentary: The development of a new innovative product is expensive and takes about 10 to 12 years. It has high economic risk for research-based pharmaceutical companies, as very few drugs that will be tested in the research will ever come to market.

Besides the high cost of research, the pharmaceutical industry now faces immense competition from generic drugs manufacturers following the expiry of important patents. Between now and 2013, 13 blockbuster companies will each stand to lose $1 billion in annual revenue, as exclusivity is no longer the case, with other manufacturers sharing these revenues. This also affects the founding members: for example, Pfizer has lost its patent protection in 2012 for the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, through which the company realises revenues of $13 billion annually.

In this context, there needs to be collaboration through agreed research alliances in the pharmaceutical industry. This applies particularly to the areas of the industry where the drug companies are not in direct competition.

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