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The statistics are daunting. Drug development has an overall failure rate of over 96%. It is especially acute for some of the most debilitating diseases where the biological mechanism that causes the disease state is not well understood. Spreading that risk is part of the reason why most drugs are developed in partnership. In 2018, all 62 drugs approved by the FDA incorporated some aspect of partnership.
Partnership may be common, but that doesn’t mean it is practiced well. Research from the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals indicates that success rates increase substantially when leading practices are utilized. At first blush, good alliance practices seem to just make sense and of course, every good business person and collaborative scientist will naturally apply them. However, alliances are conceptually simple but operationally quite challenging. Consistently engaging in the behaviors and implementing the practices that help alliances be successful—and deliver life-changing medicines to patients—takes work.
AbbVie, a global biopharmaceutical giant, and BioArctic, a research-intensive Swedish biopharmaceutical company engaged The Rhythm of Business to help it examine what it did right in a recently concluded research collaboration to develop antibodies (immunotherapy) based on promising science discovered by BioArctic that could stop or slow down the progression of the debilitating Parkinson’s disease (PD). The partners wish to share their experiences so that both their companies and others may benefit. Their story—from initial contact through to a successful conclusion—follows.