MassBio hosts BioPharm America for high-level discussion and partnering

October 6, 2011

BY MEAGHAN CASEY

BioPharm America, held Sept. 7-9 at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, proved to be one of the year’s most productive biotech partnering forums for the industry’s chief experts, executives, academic leaders and scientists.

Organized by the EBD Group and hosted by MassBio for the second consecutive year, the event attracted nearly 1,000 delegates – 40 percent of whom represented countries outside of the U.S.

“I’m so delighted BioPharm America returned to Boston and will be back again in 2012,” said MassBio President & CEO Robert K. Coughlin. “The life science industry is a vital part of Massachusetts’ economic fabric. This event is a unique opportunity to highlight how our companies continue to be the most innovative in the industry. We’re here to make the connections that will move us forward.”

“The BioPharm America conference is one of the largest business exchanges in the world,” said Carola Schropp, President of EBD Group. “It’s an ideal platform for partnering. It’s where the leading dealmakers come to strike the deals and collaborations resulting in tomorrow’s novel medicines.”

Some of the top pharmaceutical and biotech companies worldwide, including Abbott, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, Merck, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Nycomed, Organogenesis, Pfizer, sanofiaventis and Shire were in attendance. Shire CEO Angus Russell served as the event’s keynote speaker, addressing the need to build stronger relationships with patients, physicians, policy makers and payers. He urged industry leaders to become more proactively involved in the regulatory side of business, particularly in terms of pricing and reimbursement, and to examine if products in development are bringing real value to the patients.

“It’s not just about bringing new drugs to the market,” said Russell. “We have to think about our stakeholders. Until we start to extend the proverbial olive branch and prove we can make valuable medicine, we’re not going to make progress in the future.”

George Golumbeski of Celgene and Anna Protopapas of Takeda joined Russell in discussing the benefits of personalized medicine and whether or not specialty markets are the future of drug development. “Where there’s a genuine, unmet medical need, that’s where you can demonstrate you’re delivering a real, clinical benefit,” said Golumbeski.

Murali Gopalakrishnan of Abbott, Martin Mackay of AstraZeneca and Philip Vickers of Shire participated in the keynote panel, “Rethinking Pharma’s Role in Bridging the Productivity Gap.” The R&D leaders addressed concerns of rising costs in drug development and lower investment in early-stage or novel products. They spoke about an increased need for different models of collaboration among organizations and divisions, as well as more partnerships with patient groups.

“The partnerships with patients are particularly powerful,” said Vickers. “By performing outcome surveys and natural history studies – tracking the course of a disease – we’re better able to understand the disease and go in and target it. And if we can involve the patients in the regulatory arena, they can really enrich the process. They understand better than anyone the risks and rewards of taking a drug.”

Also at the three-day conference, FierceBiotech announced the "Fierce 15", the 15 most promising private biotech companies in the world. Ten of the “Fierce 15” companies were in attendance and FierceBiotech Editor-in-Chief John Carroll hosted the panel discussion on what it takes to attract venture backing and top partners in a difficult financing environment.

The event also featured an entire track dedicated to personalized medicine, with a focus on next generation sequencing, connecting the dots for personalized treatment options, deal structures and lessons learned in oncology. In addition, it included a therapeutic insight track, interactive roundtable discussions, company presentations, networking events and panels on regenerative medicine, cell therapy and nontraditional partnerships in an evolving healthcare ecosystem.

To participate in BioPharm America 2012 when it returns to Boston, contact Lauren Laidlaw at 617- 674-5100 or lauren.laidlaw@massbio.org.

 

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