Pharma Strategy Blog

Commentary on Pharma & Biotech Oncology / Hematology New Product Development

Posts tagged ‘oncology’

One of the interesting things about scientific conferences such as AACR and ASCO is that everyone looks at the same data differently as if it were through a kaleidoscope.

Brand marketers focus on their competition by tumour type or disease, scientists look at specific mechanisms or pathways, investors look at particular companies and so on. 

Someone asked me the other day how I analyse the data.  I hadn't really thought about it much until then, but on reflection what I'm interested in is trends and how research evolves from a big picture science view so that means I look at pathways like a true biochemist.  This also teaches us where the gaps are and what opportunities may arise in the future.  It's not exactly rocket science, but it is a useful approach sometimes.

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One of the things about oncology or any other therapeutic are new product development and marketing is that you get to spend a LOT of time at scientific congresses like AACR in DC the other week, which means early to rise and late to sleep:

Source: Personal iPhone – view of over the Potamac and Georgetown, DC from Arlington, VA. 

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The other week someone asked me why I do so much work specialising in oncology and cancer, which admittedly can sometimes bring more sad news than good.  

I answered simply: "because I'm a crazy deranged fool!"

image from www.gapingvoidgallery.comSource: Hugh

I follow Hugh MacLeod's cartoons daily and also subscribe to his excellent newsletter.  On bad days he keeps me sane, on good days I laugh out loud.

What on earth is a 'crazy deranged fool' you may be wondering?

According to Hugh:


Tomorrow, I will be in Princeton, NJ for a one day meeting focused on addressing the Current and Innovative Imaging Biomarkers in Neurology and Oncology Drug Development, hosted by Bioclinica.  

If you have any questions about the event, please send a tweet to @maverickNY and I will do my best to answer them on Twitter. Comments on this widget will not be monitored until the end of the day as wifi and internet access is likely to be limited and I'll be tweeting from my iPhone.

If interested, you can follow the synopsis from the live tweets below by clicking on the Play triangle:  


At last weeks investor meeting held by Roche in downtown Wall Street, the Board reviewed the pipeline opportunities in a number of areas.  Earlier this week I wrote about the non-oncology pipeline and today will form an overview of the cancer drugs in development.

One of the things that Roche is renowned for is life cycle management.  They do this better than many in the industry in my opinion and it makes an enormous difference not only to continuity, but also long term revenues and performance. Too many companies take a short term view and do not think ahead to the future. This is a big mistake. Perhaps they get bogged down in classic silos or management do not see it as a priority, but it does make a difference. 


Last Thursday, I attended the Roche Investor meeting in Wall Street, live-tweeted it using the hashtag #RocheIR and enjoyed an interesting event packed full with lots of information to digest.  

Photo-6Luckily, I bumped into an old colleague from Sandoz UK days and was delighted to learn that he is now Global Head of Regulatory at Roche.  Of course, if you spend a day out of the office, you pay for it severely the next day with an even bigger pile of emails, client requests, RFPs and telecons to catch up on >.<

While listening to last week's presentation by BMS on their pipeline, one slide in particular caught my attention:

Picture 10
Source: BMS

Now, it wasn't the fact that BMS were second in their table of Total Shareholder Return (TSR) that was interesting to me, but that Abbott were first, and by a long way, according to the chart above.  Of course, shareholder return is only one measure of performance and says nothing at all about putting customers and patients first, but that is another story/blog.


A chance email yesterday from Matthew Herper of Forbes Health got me thinking.  He was interested in whether a company, who have been successful in other therapeutic areas, could do well in cancer.

A question like that can quietly sit in the back of your mind for days percolating and brewing until you sit down and really think about it.

I've had some great opportunities to work in several different therapy areas including cardiovascular, dermatology, immunology, CNS, hematology and oncology.  The last two have much in common, the others less so.  But what makes them different, what factors are important to take into consideration and how do make it work?


We spend a lot of time researching biotechs in the oncology space and thus it occurred to me that many of them are located around the San Francisco bay area as a hub, in a landscape dominated by Genentech, now part of the Roche empire.  San Francisco has good logistic connections, a lot of roomy office space, active research in several universities and provides a pleasant haven for science, academia, research and industry to all flourish.

There are far to many to mention in one blog post, but here is a quick update on some of the companies we’ve been following over the last couple of years in the cancer market (in no particular order):


This snippet from Reuters posted earlier this week while I was listening to the Roche earnings call in Basle, which was a nicely put together presentation:

"Roche Holding AG overhauled the sales efforts for its best-selling drug, the Avastin cancer treatment, after the company “lost steam” during the fourth quarter.  

Sales of the medicine were hurt by a focus on selling it as a treatment for breast tumors, Pascal Soriot, the head of the pharmaceuticals division, said in an interview today.  The company beefed up marketing by assigning the sales team responsible for the Herceptin breast cancer drug to also promote Avastin, while the group that sells the Xeloda therapy will promote it for use against colorectal cancer, he said. 

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