• 10 September 2009
  • News
  • By Nayantara Som

“J&J takes a networked approach to R&D in Asia”

“J&J takes a networked approach to R&D in Asia”

—Paul Stoffels, company group chairman, Global Research and Development, Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, US

In a freewheeling interview with BioSpectrum India, Paul Stoffels, company group chairman, Global Research and Development, Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, shares more about the company’s NCE facility in Mumbai, which was launched in April 2009, and also discloses the company’s business strategy for the Asia-Pacific region in general and India in particular. Excerpts from that exclusive interview.

QCan you elaborate on the late-phase new chemical entity (NCE) facility in Mumbai, in terms of investments, workforce and infrastructure facilities?
Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J’s) new Analytical and Pharmaceutical Development Center (APDC) in northern Mumbai is the first late-phase NCE facility in India, where we will support the final pre-production testing of future new drugs and compounds. The launch of this facility, in combination with the new Asia R&D headquarters in Shanghai, underscores J&J’s commitment to entrepreneurship and  open innovation in the Asia-Pacific region. The new facility is a major advancement in the company’s goal of achieving end-to-end drug development in Asia and the integration of the global business model for our pharmaceutical sector. The APDC center offers top quality technological capabilities within a cost-effective infrastructure and serves as an important global hub, connecting scientific experts, institutes, research partners and employees of J&J. The entire site will eventually include 150-300 technical and non-technical employees, who will collaborate with other J&J teams from R&D, commercial and operations departments on a variety of projects, including those focused on infectious diseases and finding innovative treatments for HIV, tuberculosis and multi-drug resistant bacteria.

QWhy did J&J chose Shanghai as the R&D headquarters for its Asian cluster rather than India?
Asia continues to be a source of new innovative products that bring significant benefits to patients both globally and regionally. Over the past four years, J&J has introduced R&D capabilities in Asia in the areas of clinical trial execution, biostatistics and data management, pharmaceutical development and discovery chemistry. The company has already built a network across China through research partnerships and collaborative efforts that connect the medical and academic communities to R&D centers. Our new Shanghai Asia R&D headquarter connects a virtual R&D organization with hubs in Beijing, Mumbai, Bangalore and other R&D operational teams, and represents the third R&D cluster in J&J’s global family, following Europe and the US. Our R&D headquarters in Shanghai and APDC facility in Mumbai create a critical mass capability in the region, allowing an end-to-end approach to drug development in the region.
The Shanghai headquarter is a crucial part of J&J’s portfolio development in all strategic therapeutic areas: neuroscience, cardiovascular and metabolic disease, immunology, oncology and virology. Oncology, infectious and metabolic diseases are given importance due to the high level of unmet medical need in the region.  Going forward, J&J’s Asia R&D capabilities will be expanded under a three-pillar ‘Bridge to the Future’ strategy, which addresses immediate needs and provides strong platform for future growth. The strategy includes the introduction of new R&D capabilities through which functional teams will immediately contribute to the global development program, the development of strong R&D core teams to drive innovation and development from the region, and the continued active pursuit of ‘open innovation’ in the search for new and effective healthcare solutions to patients.

QWhat is J&J’s R&D strategy in India and other Asian countries?
At J&J, we are taking a networked approach to R&D in Asia because we want to fuel entrepreneurship and scientific excellence in the region. We are also matching it with our commitment to open innovation. The combination of our Mumbai facility and our R&D headquarter in Shanghai creates a critical mass capability in the region, allowing an end-to-end approach to drug development in Asia. J&J is a global company and will continue to invest globally. We are increasing the amount of research conducted in India and Asia as part of our commitment to these markets. As such, our investments and activities are for the longer term and the results from our investments are expected to contribute greatly to sustainable growth in the region during the years to come. By investing in capabilities as well as scientific relationships, working with the best minds in the region and following the best discovery practices, J&J can take an end-to-end approach in providing new medicines that ensure healthy outcomes for people worldwide.

QWhat is J&J’s global R&D strategy?
J&J’s global strategy is focused on advancing a fresh pharmaceutical R&D model that creates value through open innovation and a personalized focus on patient solutions. As such, J&J is taking a differentiated approach to develop medicines, combining external collaborations with our expertises in drugs and diagnostics, outstanding science and technology capabilities, and the ability to take a targeted personalized approach to patient treatments in the areas of neuroscience, internal medicine, immunology, oncology, and virology.

QWhat are J&J’s biotech plans for the coming year in terms of product launches? 
Last year alone, J&J filed four medicines in China and six in India. Most recently, Centocor Ortho Biotech has gained FDA approval for SIMPONI (golimumab), which is used for the treatment of moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis, active psoriatic arthritis and active ankylosing spondylitis. J&J will introduce the first patient-administered anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha therapy that offers an effective once-monthly treatment option. With continued investment in this region, the company has projected an unprecedented number of filings in India and China in the upcoming years. Between 2008-13, the company expects to file a total of 52 medicines as part of its continued commitment to patients worldwide.

QWhat are the major breakthroughs which J&J will be bringing about in the market?
J&J will continue to embrace open innovation and support key connections among external partners, researchers, institutes of scientific excellence and R&D centers in Asia and other emerging markets. While we continue our strategy of relying on a combination of internal and in-licensed innovative drug products and technologies, we are also pro-actively collaborating with external partners to create a network of relationships that will generate new ideas and innovative technologies that could benefit the entire world.

QWill J&J increase its investments in the Indian market?
J&J is committed to investing in R&D globally in order to offer innovative solutions to patients from all across the world. Additionally, the company’s investment and activities in India are for the longer term, and the results from our investments are expected to contribute greatly to sustainable growth in this region in the years to come.  

Nayantara Som

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