Bradley Marchant, Pfizer’s head of clinical development in Asia, told Outsourcing-Pharma that: “The old model where almost all R&D within the pharmaceutical industry was conducted within captive sites served us well in the past.
“However,” Marchant continued “ in the current environment of soaring costs and diminishing productivity, we need to explore innovative approaches in the way we conduct our R&D.”
According to him, “Seeking the best science outside our walls is an important part of this, along with more risk sharing partnerships with smaller biopharm companies and academics.”
Pfizer are looking to expand its academic and research collaborations in China, India, Korea, Japan, and Australia to “tap into innovation in Asia,” Marchant explained.
“These collaborations allow us to partner with top scientists who share our research interests to generate new knowledge and insight, especially for diseases that are relevant to Asian patients, [which] complements our internal R&D efforts well,” he said.
Treating diseases in China
With this in mind, the drug giant aims to enter into partnerships with local scientists to find new ways to treat diseases prevalent in China. Those such as liver disease, cancer– specifically lung and liver – diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease all represent a major burden to China’s 1.33bn population, and so, Marchant explained that the company will be focusing its expertise on these diseases in preclinical to phase III projects.
Although Pfizer already owns a research unit in Shanghai, China, set up in 2005, the company’s focus has always remained on furthering working relationships with contract research organisations, research institutes and universities. Peking University, Tsinghua University, Shanghai University, and Fudan University, all have ongoing collaborations with Pfizer.
“The strategic importance of collaborating and partnering with CROs, scientists and biopharm companies in China goes well beyond any possible economic benefit,” claimed Marchant, who continued to say:
“China is rapidly becoming a powerhouse in terms of science and innovation; it’s critical that we have a meaningful R&D presence here. This is particularly the case for research into diseases that represent an important medical need in China.”
In August, Pfizer’s quarterly results were reported as being higher-than-expected, and the drugmaker is confident its earnings for the total year will exceed its forecast range. This belief remains strong despite the likelyhood that the company will lose its patent for its $12bn anti-cholesterol drug, Lipitor, next year as generic rivals produce similar, cheaper alternatives.