On April 4, the HBA Metro chapter’s Women In Science (WIS) affinity group held its inaugural event for the Connecticut region at Purdue Pharma in Stamford, focusing on innovation in the biopharmaceutical industry. The topic was developed after noting the nimble pace of innovation in the technology field as compared to the pace of development in the pharmaceutical industry.
Industry experts working at the leading edge were invited to join a panel discussion on the state of the business for the biopharmaceutical industry, with a particular focus on recent trends and emerging opportunities in current business models. The panel of distinguished speakers included Barbara Dalton, PhD, VP, venture capital, Pfizer, Inc., Peter Farina, PhD executive in residence, Canaan Partners and Susan Froshauer, PhD, CEO & president, Cure. Chris McLeod, MS, angel investor, retired president & CEO, 454 Sciences moderated.
The highly energetic dialogue arising from the panel discussion captured the speakers’ individual definitions and perspectives of innovation, including how this somewhat nebulous concept can be appropriately measured and achieved. Each speaker reflected on past and current career challenges. Other discussion points included reflections on where the industry stands today -- is the blockbuster model evolving or dead, opinions on evolving trends in externalization-oriented activities with emphasis on R&D directed at biotech’s and startups and general commentary on what might be some of the savvier strategies to undertake.
The speakers also highlighted what they saw as significant contributing factors to the impedance of creativity in biopharma. However, Barbara Dalton aptly defended biopharma as still being one of the more innovative global industries, reminding the audience of the inherent challenges posed by identifying disease targets and developing target-specific and safe therapeutics to deliver clinically-relevant benefits in patient populations with unmet needs. In turn, discussion also included critique on sustaining the value and continued success of drug development, suggesting that it is not solely determined by fostering innovation within the corporate environment, but that the environment, in turn, must also be receptive and responsive to innovation.
The panel discussion closed with attention directed towards the future - the regulatory environment factored high on the scale of determinants influencing the implementation and success of innovative strategies. New elements in the innovative process sourcing from emerging markets were briefly noted as well. The final points from the discussion encompassed existing mentoring aspects provided by biopharma companies and what additional unmet needs would be relevant to continue filling the other valuable pipeline -– human capital.
This event was led by Alexis Stroud, associate director of corporate compliance at Purdue Pharmaceuticals and the WIS event co-leads Drs. Ashley Goss and Lisa Weiss. They were supported by the rest of the WIS team which included Dr. Jennifer O’Brien, Dr. Deshanie Rai, Alane Taratuska and Dr. Jean Hom Chow. Attendance was high, including many students from neighboring graduate and professional schools such as Yale University.