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GeneSoft: The Value of Compromised Products

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

Following the FDA's rejection of Factive, GlaxoSmithKline gave it back to its Korean owner, LG Life Sciences Now the compromised--and newly approved--product is the basis for a start-up's spectacular return from a near-death experience--and the latest in a string of biotech successes based around products the previous owners had rejected.

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In-Licensing: Still a Difficult Model

One way for Pharma to bolster its lagging growth would be to capture some of the value of the compounds it has shelved during development. Start-ups have created technology platforms and systems biology approaches and are in place to reposition such stalled drugs in new indications, or to reformulate marketed compounds to extend the product life cycle. Nonetheless, drug firms largely remain reluctant to part even with compounds they have decided not to develop themselves. Drug makers say the issue is resources, but it is also desire. Until Big Pharma further loosens its grip on its compounds that are stalled in development, in-licensing will remain an opportunistic, case-by-case exercise, and biotechs must accept the fact that access will depend largely on advance insider knowledge of pharma firms' pipelines.

Amdipharm: From Pharmacist to Pharma Firm

Amdipharm was set up in April 2003 to find and market niche products in areas of real clinical need, considered too small-or unsexy-for larger players. Wholly-owned by UK-based distributor and wholesaler Waymade Healthcare, which started out as a chain of pharmacies, Amdipharm's management reckons that the group's experience across the drug distribution chain, particularly at the buyer's end, and its proven deal making prowess, will help it achieve its aim of becoming a successful European pharma company.

Arrow: Focus and Flexibility

In October 2003, infectious diseases start-up Arrow Therapeutics' £21 million funding round from four new international VCs and five existing backers topped the ranks of UK biotech fundraisings. The round shows that investors value a broad pipeline, plus well-connected management able to balance focus with opportunism, more than a product in the clinic or a sexy new technology.

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