• 14 June 2007
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Big Pharma and Big Biotech Will Fight To Accelerate Products

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Big Pharma and Big Biotech Will Fight To Accelerate Products

Predicts the biotechnology industry's leading expert and visionary, G Steven Burrill, CEO, Burrill & Company

In his keynote speech at BIO 2007, in Boston, Massachusetts on May 7, 2007, G Steven Burrill, CEO, Burrill & Company, described how biotechnology is transforming into a massive global enterprise. He touched upon the events that occurred during the past 12 months and presented data on the financial performance of the industry.

Burrill pointed out that the global biotech industry is "transforming". It's moving away from chemistry to biochemistry; from one-size-fits-all drugs to personalized medicine; from "aging just happens" to "aging is optional". Therapeutics, diagnostics, and devices are becoming "theranostics"; the focus is shifting from treating sickness to preventing sickness; and it's no more food for survival, but food for health.

While all this is happening on the technology front, a global transformation is underway in the industry too. With over 5,000 companies, biotech today is truly a global industry. Despite changes in the industry leadership, the major companies of 20 years ago are still important. According to Burrill, even the smallest biotech company is a global player from Day One. "The global transformation that is a central theme in our book, Biotech 2007, does not just refer to geography. It is occurring pan-industry and across technology and having an impact on the innovation that results," observed Burrill. "We have begun to understand disease 'globally', that is, from a systems point of view, from gene or SNP to protein to networks to disease. In parallel, and conversely, the notion of 'one size fits all' is being replaced by medicine targeting the individual. The central tenet on which a huge biopharmaceutical industry has been built has to adjust to a new and evolving personalized medicine world."

"The industry is over 30 years old and is generating over $85 billion in revenues. There are 5,000 companies worldwide, 600 of which are public companies. The life sciences have a strong performance record, even in difficult economic and political times and have outperformed Dow and NASDAQ.

There are over 100 products on the market (many of them are $1 billion drugs). Further, 350 biotech drugs are in late-stage clinical trials (strong pipeline). Agbio products are now grown on 200 million acres worldwide and it is growing at 20 percent per year. The market cap is going in the right direction with the figure touching $550 billion," said Burrill, giving the current status of the biotech sector.




Building on these statistics, he provided predictions for the rest of the year and his visions for the future. Some of the key transformations that he identified included:

  • From waiting for disease to occur to developing predictive models

  • From treating sickness to preventing disease

  • From "one size fits all" drugs to targeted therapies and personalized medicine

  • From regulatory barriers to harmonization

  • From patents to "barriers to entry"

  • From concern about GMOs to substantial increases in global acreage

  • From crops for food to crops for fuel

  • From dwindling fossil fuels to renewable bio-energy

  • From expensive unavailable capital locally to global arbitrage

  • From local companies to global companies

Burrill predicted heated debates on healthcare in 2007. He also predicted a continued increase in sales of products. While the industry would continue to live in a world of stricter regulations, according to Burrill, the products will come. He foresaw that big pharma and big biotechs would fight to accelerate products.


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