Back to SLA Biopharmaceutical what is going on?

SLA presentation June 10, 2002 > Marketing, finance & uncertainty

Last revised November 11, 2013  Working draft

What is really going on here? Marketing, finance & uncertainty 
not part of June 10, 2002 presentation

View a Printer-Friendly Version of this Web Page!

Mary Chitty
Cambridge Healthtech Institute


Reinventing big pharma, biotech, other companies, publishing and librarians?

Big pharma needs to reinvent itself. 
-Current situation is unsustainable. 
-Spending more and more on R&D with fewer and fewer drugs to show for it. 
New drug development cost study, Nov. 2001 Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development Drug pipelines need filling as patents expire.

Biotechnology companies are trying to re-invent themselves as FIPCO’s (Fully Integrated Pharmaceutical COmpanies).

Other companies need to reinvent themselves because
-In Massachusetts "biotech is hot because other companies are not"
Boston Globe Biotechnology section Apr. 22, 2002 (try to find time to read more of this) 
-Venture capital wants to invest only in serial entrepreneurs (already successful).

Publishing needs to re-invent itself. 
-Lessons for pharmas/biotechs - blockbusters and mega-mergers?
-Threats – and opportunities- of electronic publications?
-New role as electronic data repository

Do librarians and libraries need to reinvent themselves?

Marketing and finance Talking their language(s)

Business of biotechnology glossary
See benchmarking, best practices, business models, competitive intelligence, core competencies, high tech industry, hypercompetitive, market fragmentation, market research, proof of concept, proof of principle, R&D productivity, technology audit, white space [More timely, topical or sophisticated business terms?]  Terms in bold italics defined.

Financial glossary See accredited investors, blockbuster drugs, burn rate, dilution, exit strategies, mezzanine financing, opportunity costs, PIPES, private equity, Return On Investment ROI, seed rounds, term sheet, valuation 


What does the future look like? Will it ever settle down?
Any possibility of punctuated equilibrium?

disruptive technologies: Some technology improvements are linear or incremental. Others truly change the paradigm. Harvard Business School faculty member Clayton Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma analysis (of data from the disk drive industry) found disruptive technologies are much cheaper than existing ones.

Big mainstream companies were quite capable of developing these technologies (and had). What they couldn't do was figure out how to market them (and justify devoting sufficient resources to this).

The pharmaceutical industry is mentioned only in passing, but the success of larger established companies either partnering with smaller less established ones (clearly happening in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors) or spin- off of promising developments as separate companies (Johnson & Johnson said to be particularly good at this) makes a lot of sense. Business of biotechnology glossary 

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When new technologies cause great firms to fail , Clayton Christensen, (1997) 2000,  links to Amazon reviews.  Innovative technology can be more about marketing than technology.  Could this apply to any of our institutions right now?


lead users: Contrary to conventional wisdom, successful innovations are often first developed and tested by product or service users themselves -"lead users" rather than by the firms that are first to bring those innovations to market.

How to find lead users: Look for the people who are pushing the envelope with your product, and ask them who knows more than they do.

Staying close to your customers may not be the best way to develop innovative products. Customers are more apt to come up with incremental improvements, while lead users may be in seemingly unrelated fields. They are the people who write their own software because nothing available suits their needs.

Breakthroughs to order at 3M via lead user innovation, Eric von Hippel


Best practices: 
Marketing High Technology: An insider’s view, William Davidow, 1986, links to Amazon reviews. 

Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and selling high-tech products to mainstream customers, Geoffrey Moore, 1999, links to Amazon review.  
Doesn’t really talk about pharmaceuticals, but read thinking of early adopters as biotech companies and mainstream customers as big pharmas.

Moore summarizes this book’s message as "At every stage of the life cycle, the strategy that causes success in that stage causes failure in the next." in Living on the fault line: Managing for shareholder value in the age of the Internet, 2000, links to Amazon reviews. 

Portals, intranets, extranets
-Enhance workflow with emails triggered by achievement of specific tasks
-Distribute maintenance across functional areas
Currency & new content - Non-current portals and information lack credibility
Each department is responsible for creating, maintaining, editing and vetting information.


Lessons learned – Marketing and finance  
Nice to get paid on a regular basis. Some revenue is helpful. Enough to cover your expenses is ultimately essential.

Nobody has unlimited resources. There are always more promising possibilities than money to fund them.  

"The people we market to don’t like marketing" – Jim MacNeil, Marketing Manager, Cambridge Healthtech, circa 1994. A profound insight for me.


Ongoing challenges: 

Why is change so hard?
Inertia is an incredibly powerful force.
Uncertain outcomes doesn't make decisions easier.

Bibliography: Change see below


Technology strategy – 
Rebecca Henderson, MIT Sloan School has links to slides.

Slides from Sloan School Technology Strategy course, executive seminar  Day 1: The Evolution of Technologies and Markets, Making Money from Innovation  Why change is so tricky, competency traps, alliances and joint ventures, best practices

See graph on inverse relationship between multitasking and productivity  
"Project proliferation destroys productivity"

Day 2: Understanding Organizational Capabilities, Doing Technology Strategy  Making decisions based on real data, truth and trust, innovation funnels.  Creating, capturing and delivering value


Tradeoffs and balancing acts?

Three reasons for hope and cautious optimism

1. This is a very exciting time to be in biology and the life sciences. People who never thought of themselves as having anything to do with the life sciences are finding they do. Examples, archaeologists, genealogists, others?. New specialties are emerging. Example: forensic entomologists, others?

Genomic biology overview See alternative splicing, apoptosis, biology, combinatorial biology, functional glycomics, hypothetical protein, luxury genes, pharmcophore, post-translational modifications, protein structure, SNP Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, systems biology

Not textbook biology - frontier biology.


2. We are trying to solve REALLY HARD problems.

The biotechnological innovations of the 1970’s took until the 1990’s to integrate.  "The Pharmaceutical Industry and the Revolution in Molecular Biology: Exploring the Interactions between Scientific, Institutional and Organizational Change, Iain M. Cockburn, Rebecca Henderson, Scott Stern, 1999.  Available as a PDF at

Drug discovery and development is a marathon not a 50 yard dash.

The odds against finding new drugs are too daunting to struggle with in isolation. Several years ago Mark Murcko (CTO, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) estimated that there are 100,000? medicinal chemists worldwide (Check on figure, any updates?) who are lucky to produce 30- to 50 new drugs a year. BUT


3.The pharmaceutical industry is increasingly science driven.

More and more mechanisms of action for a number of drugs are known now (c. 30%?). For a number of years I’ve hoped drug companies encouraging good science and open sharing of scientific information would prosper in the long run (without finding much evidence, even anecdotal).

Then I found this report, quantifying a positive correlation between companies encouraging peer reviewed scientific publication and productivity (correlating patents issued to company scientists with their articles published in peer- reviewed journals)

"The Diffusion of Science Driven Drug Discovery: Organizational Change in Pharmaceutical Research" by Rebecca Henderson, MIT Sloan School of Management and NBER; Luigi Orsenigo, Universita' Commerciale Luigi Bocconi; Gary P. Pisano, Harvard Business School, 1999. Available as a PDF at

Some big pharmas (of the 15 studied) came out so far ahead the authors wondered why adoption of this beneficial practice was so slow, but they found some companies had started out so far ahead that others found it difficult to catch up. These companies also had high level support for encouraging peer reviewed publication.

What do information users really want?

- Just-in time information, 24/7/365, global availability
- Very short, succinct summaries
- More analysis AND interpretation
- Disintermediation (self-service)
- Uses language(s ) and technical jargon of users
- Customized (but people hate to fill out forms or profiles)
- Seamlessly integrated (and free) information

Many thanks to SLA Pharmaceutical Division Spring Meeting, April 15-16, 2002, Princeton NJ for these insights.


Reality checks – what will information users really pay for?

-Just-in time information, 24/7/365, globally 
-Only possible electronically (web and e-mail) 
-Mind reading, divination also helpful. 
-Web is key enabling technology.
-Bibliography Web usability, collaboration & content see below

-Very short, succinct summaries
-One page executive summaries preferred. 
-Executive summary as book review metaphor, shorter takes longer to write.
-Who has time to read (and reflect) anymore? 

-More analysis AND interpretation 
-Fewer data dumps, less unfiltered information. 
-Recommendations can't be infallible, but need to maintain credibility over time. 
-Give a clear indication of what to expect, further options (and costs).

-Disintermediation (self-service)  
-But offer options when information isn’t readily found

Uses language(s ), technical jargon of users 
-taxonomies and ontologies fit in here. 
-How do we learn and keep up with new languages, jargon?

Customized information retrieval  
-but people hate to fill out forms or profiles
-collaborative filtering? - remembrance agents?  
-other knowledge management techniques?
-Ramping up, industrialization and scalable information retrieval are major challenges.
See Information management & analysis glossary for definitions

Seamlessly integrated
-Who (if anyone) is doing this now?

Free information  
-What about the value of users’ time?  
-Opportunity costs?  


Strategies for librarians?

Opportunities for librarians?
Still needs a lot of work

Roger Brent said in his opening remarks for the 2000 After the Genome meeting in Jackson Hole Wyoming "current efforts to come to grips with genomic information often resemble computer- savvy library science, where the most important issues concern categories, classification schemes and information retrieval. [was at 

Synopsis of the Bio-Ontologies Workshop at the EBI [European Bioinformatics Institute, UK] for MGED, Dec. 5, 2001

Also MGED Microarray Gene Expression Database, Ontology Working Group

  • text mining of biomedical literature

Metabolic network models using text mining

Computational genomics – text mining

Dietrich Schuhmann et. al. (Lion Bioscience AG) Mining the biomedical literature

New image? New title(s)? 
CKO Chief Knowledge Officer  - Katharine C. Adams "Peak performance" Intelligent KM, Oct. 21, 2001

CCO Chief Content Officer/Organizer?

Expectations management? any best practices?

Use Delphi techniques (talk to a lot of people) to anticipate changes.  
Use scenarios to envision possible outcomes and actions.

Take calculated risks. No clear right answers right now.

[ask permission to use Lotus/IBM water cooler "Start talking and get to work" picture?]

To Taxonomies for librarians SLA June 10, 2002


Bibliographies: Web usability, collaboration & content; Change

Web usability 
Krug, Steve, Robert Black, Don’t make me think! Common sense approach to web usability, 2000. links to Amazon 

Nielsen, Jakob, Designing web usability: The practice of simplicity  Read about Writing for the web (page 100 in edition I have), User contributed content (page 256). links to Amazon Jakob Nielsen’s website Companion website for Designing web usability, Useful e-newsletter updates

Nielsen, Jakob, Homepage Usability: 50 websites deconstructed, 2001. Helped me figure out how to redesign glossary & taxonomies homepage, and begin to understand "intuitive browsing"

User Interface Engineering [Jared Spool], Articles and other resources, 2002

Web content 
Bricklin, Dan, Good documents: How to write for intranets and the Internet, Trellix Corp, 1999.

Lynch, P.J., Web Style Guide, Yale Univ., 2002

Writing for the web, Sun Microsystems, 1994-2002

Information retrieval & architecture
Digital technology and extension of the role of libraries and librarians  Terry Smith, Report of the Multimedia Perspective Working Group, IITA Digital Libraries Workshop, 1995

Change Bibliography  
Dubinskas, Frank. "Janus Organizations: Scientists and Managers in Genetic Engineering Firms" Pages170-232 in Frank Dubinskas (ed.), Making Time Ethnographies of High Technology Organizations, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988   Also in Technology Review May/ June 1985: 24-30, 74.  Why scientists and managers have trouble getting along. Any good updates?

James C. Collins, Jerry I Porras, Built to Last: Successful habits of visionary companies, 1994. 

Gibbons, Robert, Why organizations are such a mess (and what an economist might do about it) Sloan School, MIT

Gladwell, Malcolm, The Tipping Point: How little things can make a big difference, 2000, links to Amazon reviews.
Read about "connectors" and mavens

Senge, Peter, The Fifth Discipline: Art and Practice of the learning organization, (1990) 1994,  links to Amazon reviews.  
Read about the beer game. It is easier to blame people than to figure out how to change systems Cambridge Healthtech Institute



Back to