Biotech business development has become more sophisticated and more complex. Yet we see companies running processes which are suboptimal.
Here is a case in point.
We’re reviewing several presentations for companies looking to out-license their early-stage assets, and they are making the same mistake.
They are emphasizing technical and scientific features instead of the benefits to the prospective partner.
All the Preclinical and even Clinical evidence in the world will not matter if you cannot answer these three fundamental questions:
1. What is the size of the commercial opportunity?
Gone are the days when you can say “It’s this type of cancer, and the prevalence is that, and the unmet need is huge. Therefore, this is a winner.”
Nor can you simply say that there are w prescriptions written valued at x dollars, therefore y percentage of that market leads to Peak Year Sales of z.
Sizing of the commercial opportunity simply must be more robust, more sophisticated, and more data driven than ever before, and must include:
a. Current and future competitors
b. Therapeutic alternatives
c. Marketing spend required (don’t tell a prospective partner they will need 1000-person sales force…)
2. Will prescribers actually prescribe this?
Don’t know? Ask them.
Primary research is faster and cheaper than ever before. It’s quite possible to put together good surveys and market them online via online ads and email.
Not convinced? Here is an example.
Or perhaps you don’t think physicians spend professional time online?
If the conclusion is that prescribers will not prescribe your product, then you have a few options:
a. Abandon the program; or
b. Rethink your hypotheses regarding the product, target indication, clinical trial design, etc., etc.
We prefer b. Don’t you?
3. Will the payers pay for it?
This is often the most challenging question to answer, but only because many small companies lack the contacts and the processes necessary to do this research.
But, this is a vital question to answer. In some cases, such as 505(b)(2) opportunities, payer support may be the single most important question to discuss.
Over the past few years, we’ve see several really good assets that are never licensed. Our view is that some of these assets could be licensed if the stories are built correctly from the prospective partner’s perspective.
The fact that these assets are unpartnered means that these therapies are not making their way to the patients who actually need them.
This is a real shame, and all of us in the BD&L community should do all we can to address this issue.