Big Pharma, Short on Blockbusters, Outsources the Science

JONATHAN D. ROCKOFF | January 11, 2017

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French drug giant Sanofi SA is betting that a biotech partnership named after a Star Trek premise will help it crack one of the biggest mysteries in pharmaceutical research: molecules that drive diseases, including some cancers, that have been considered “undruggable” because of their shape. Four-and-a-half years in, Sanofi now believes its partnership, Warp Drive Bio, is close to getting its first new drug candidate. But the path has been painful. The venture has gone through three CEOs, two organizational structures, dizzying shifts in priorities—and so far, no marketable products.
Such challenges are playing out around the drug industry, which had long relied on their own scientists to discover new products. With a string of expensive failures, Big Pharma has come to realize over the past decade that the science was getting too complex for anyone to master alone.

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