A few weeks ago, BIO conducted an interesting panel discussion as part of their run up to the BIO Latin America Conference taking place the week in Brazil.
The panel included business development professionals from a wide range of companies in Latin America, primarily Brazil.
Here are a few comments and issues which stood out for us during this informative hour-long webinar.
Later Stage Assets Preferred – There was a lot of discussion on the long-term opportunity to turn local original research into development programs, and possibly products. However, the near-term (next five years) emphasis for companies in the region will be on assets with Phase II data or later. Some companies prefer products which are already on the market in “established”countries, like the US and Europe.
Holistic Approaches Welcome – Sanofi provided an example where they market a suite of products for the Type II diabetes patient, including a moisturizer for diabetic foot care. Some South American companies are much more likely to take a patient-centric view which may include prescription brands, branded generics, and non-prescription products. This could make for some interesting transactions if a suite of products can be bundled as part of a licensing deal.
Partnering Meetings Advice – The moderator asked a few questions about partnering meetings, such information to include in a partnering request. Here are a few key points that stood out for us (along with our comments):
1. Several panelists made the point that “doing your homework” prior to the meeting is critical. Several of them pointed out that a meeting should incorporate some rationale for a partnership, such as a demonstration of why a potential partnership is a win-win for both parties.
We completely agree with the “doing your homework” bit. In fact, we made the same point over a year ago. However, it is also incumbent on companies to accept or decline meetings in a timely fashion. This is the only way a meeting requestor can have the time necessary to prepare appropriately. Accepting meeting requests the night before the conference (or worse, not responding at all) is simply not conducive to solid partnering discussions at conferences.
Conversely, this places a burden on the meeting requestor to “do their homework” before sending the meeting request! Assuming a goal of 25 meetings and a 25% acceptance rate, that’s 100 companies that require some level of study before sending out 100 meeting requests in order to achieve a 25 meeting goal for a conference. This suggests that the process needs to start well in advance of a conference. In fact, we believe this “homework” process should begin independently from a specific conference.
2. Several panelists echoed the idea of looking for long-term partnerships, rather than quick deals to boost small company finances. Again, this is where the preparation can play a key role in understanding how your asset fits into a potential partner’s long-term objectives for the company and the region.
3. One panelist made the curious comment regarding the importance of understanding the local regulatory situation. We agree, but isn’t that why we are looking for a partner in the first place? We think this point may have been lost in the translation.
Overall, we thought the webinar was an interesting forum for learning how some companies in the region view licensing and partnering. If you have plans to out-license your asset to a company in Latin America, especially Brazil, then this webinar will be an hour well spent.
We came across this summary of the Webinar on BioWorld. A few good points were raised in the summary:
1. Transactions in the region will be focused on licensing and co-promotion of later-stage assets. Latin America is “very behind” in original research. But this will change and evolve over time.
2. Acquisitions of local companies marketing generics and/or branded generics will continue in the near term. From what we’re hearing, it is becoming increasingly competitive to find good companies at good valuations.
3. Regulatory environments, especially in Brazil, can be a challenge. For example, products such as biosimilars developed for the Indian or Chinese markets will not simply walk into the Brazilian market. Much more development will be required to earn a Brazilian approval.