How Many Pharmas Does It Take to Accelerate Drug Development?

Stop me if you've heard this one before: How many pharmas does it take to accelerate the development of drugs?


Ha-ha! Get it? Ten.

As they say, the funniest jokes are the ones that are true. I kid you not, there really are 10 companies that think they can band together to speed things up.

Separated, the companies are inefficient at running clinical trials. But together, Abbott Labs (NYS: ABT) , AstraZeneca (NYS: AZN) , Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly (NYS: LLY) , GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer (NYS: PFE) , Roche, and Sanofi think they can get things done.

I'll believe it when I see it.

The companies have formed a non-profit called TransCelerate BioPharma, which plans to tackle inefficiencies in the clinical trials as its first task. Right now, each company has to reinvent the wheel each time they run a trial. If everything was standardized, it would be a lot easier on clinical trial investigators, the doctors actually running the trials.

That certainly sounds like a good idea, but putting it into practice doesn't sound nearly as easy. Can 10 competitors really be expected to share resources to create a better system that will ultimately help those competitors?

As an example, one of the initiatives is to set up a system so companies can procure other company's drugs to use as comparators in clinical trials. That's great if you're on the receiving end, but not so much if it means helping a competitor get onto the market. Celgene (NAS: CELG) reportedly refused to sell Dr. Reddy's Laboratories some of its cancer drug Revlimid that it needed to prove its copycat drug was equivalent.

Call me skeptical, but I have a feeling every company in the consortium is probably more interested in benefiting from the intuitive than they are in helping their fellow companies bring drugs to the market quicker.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli holds no position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson and Abbott Laboratories. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Johnson & Johnson. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a diagonal call position in Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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