Covance has launched a new tool that seeks to connect its emerging biotech clients with established pharma clients via a secure forum.
The Covance MarketPlace aims to help biotech companies more effectively showcase their molecules to larger pharmaceutical companies as they continue to increase their own in-licensing efforts. The tool will help to compile all of Covance’s development work with prospective partners, and compile molecules typically early in their development lifecycle, such as at the IND/CTA-enabling, first-in-human or proof-of- concept phase.
John Watson, Chief Commercial Officer and president of strategic partnering at Covance, told Outsourcing-Pharma.com that Covance is trying to find ways to create more value for clients, and to boost the outcomes for molecules, “whether it’s an exit strategy or taking them to market.”
“As we spoke with our biotech clients we realized there’s still a big need to gain more exposure and get access where possible and tell their story as opposed to being found in a molecule library,” Watson said. “Big pharma still readily admits that they miss molecules and they want to cover the full landscape.”
Watson noted that Covance’s extensive IND-enabling work -- the company completes between 40 and 45 IND and CTA-enabling packages per year – has created a certain level of trust and value in the industry. “So they have told us that they see a difference when the work has been done by Covance when compared to some competitors,” he added.
A lot of big pharma clients aren’t readily aware of some of the less mature molecules coming through the pipeline, but when “the work is done with Covance, there’s a different level of credibility with partners and regulatory agencies,” Watson said.
“We still have a few more things to do to the tool and that will be completed in the next four weeks and then molecules will be loaded,” he added.
Covance is currently working with its client base of more than 500 biotech companies to place their compounds into the Covance MarketPlace.
As far as how Covance will profit from such a tool, Watson said some clients will be grandfathered in while others will be charged to use it, though he notes that Covance “didn’t go into this wanting to be a broker. But the real insight for us is to conduct the work and advance those molecules.”
He noted that the tool was well received at the recent BIO conference in 2014, with two senior level meetings with top pharma companies that were eager to see the marketplace populated.
One senior level executive from a top 10 pharma company told Watson that often times large pharma companies don’t have the resources or the time to look at all of the developing biotech treatments, but he said “if Covance brought me a molecule and told me that you thought it was promising, I would stop and pay attention,” Watson said, noting Covance has been performing IND- and CTA-enabling studies for more than 70 years.
“There are no other tools like this out there and molecule libraries but not as focused as this tool,” he added.