AstraZeneca:Shaun Grady. The role of partnering in AstraZaneca's stategy for return to growth.

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Video title: AstraZeneca:Shaun Grady. The role of partnering in AstraZaneca's stategy for return to growth.
Released on: June 20, 2014. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, filmed at Bio Conference 2013, in Chicago, USA, Fintan Walton talks to Shaun Grady from AstraZeneca
Impact of review of operations within AstraZeneca on partnering strategy
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at BIO Convention, in Chicago, 2013. On this show I have Shaun Grady, who is Vice President of Strategic Partnering and Business Development at AstraZeneca, welcome.
Shaun Grady:
Thank you, good to be here.
Fintan Walton:
It's good to have you Shaun. Everybody knows that AstraZeneca has got a new CEO, Pascal Soriot and he has undergone a review of operations within AstraZeneca, I suppose somebody like you who plays a very important role in partnering, what impact has that strategic review had on the partnering strategy for AstraZeneca?
Shaun Grady:
Yes, you are right it's a very exciting time in AstraZeneca, so Pascal came in as CEO in the sort of October timeframe and established a number of strategic review projects, about a dozen in total, one of which as you would expect the key one being business development and M&A. so we spent quite a bit of time with a collection of people from across the business from commercial and R&D, finance and so forth, just looking at our prior strategy and refreshing that strategy through what we see as kind of the new lens of the business needs going forward in particular Pascal's two sort of priority activities of reestablishing scientific leadership in AstraZeneca and returning the company to growth. So at the end of that process we really got quite a clear and well articulated and well defined business development strategy that we will now be enacting and executing through the rest of this year and into 2014.
Fintan Walton:
And does that replicate the choice of therapeutic areas that AstraZeneca has decided to go down?
Shaun Grady:
Yes absolutely and that's a key point I think is the focus and the definition that Pascal is bringing to the business, so we've identified oncology, cardiovascular metabolism and respiratory, inflammation and Autoimmune is our three core priority areas, we'll still be operating in neuroscience and infection but on what we are describing is a more opportunistic basis, so from both an internal perspective and the allocation of resource but also from a business development perspective we will be seeking to prioritize resource and finance around oncology, inflammation and CV as our priority areas. So where as previously we were quite broad in terms of our search and evaluation this definitely been a narrowing down as a result of this strategic review.
Impact on business development structure and operations
Fintan Walton:
Right, now of course when you undergo review like that that has an impact on operations, so what impact has there been in terms of the operations of business development, what can your existing partners and future partners expect now from AstraZeneca in terms of the business development structure?
Shaun Grady:
Yes and a great question, so I would hope that actually people from the outside see a little change in terms of the progress we've made in positioning AstraZeneca as a partner of choice, I think we have come a long way in the last few years, so I think we've actually provided a platform to push on from there, but as mentioned I think people will see greater focus and greatest of definition in the areas of interest which actually makes it lot easier to interact with partners because you can much easily and much quicker identify projects that are of interest to the company and of course say no to areas that are less likely, because they are off strategy, so I think that's particularly helpful. The other thing we've been doing is thinking about how our ways of working, our method of doing business development in the new organization that we have put in place, so we've created two independent, autonomous what we call science units, biotech science units for large molecule and small molecule lead by Mene Pangalos for the small molecule area and Bahija Jallal for the large molecule and those groups will actually have their own dedicated business development groups working very closely with those scientists covering the preclinical activity and the early clinical project leaving the existing business development group to focus on later clinical phase and on market opportunities, so really taking a step further and putting the BD people really very closely with the business, with our customers and to make sure that we really are critically focused on the projects that matter.
Fintan Walton:
Right, and the impact of that and over all from AstraZeneca's point of view are you going earlier into, going closer to early stage projects coming out of universities, smaller companies?
Shaun Grady:
Yes that's right, I think as everybody knows I think we've communicated pretty broadly over the last while our focus has been on late stage projects and we've been pretty open minded as to the projects that we evaluated and reviewed, for memory we looked at something in excess of a 150 Phase III ready or Phase III projects during the course of 2012, so a very agnostic open minded approach, now in the new strategy or the refreshed strategy late, good quality late stage opportunities are still going to be a high priority for us, but not in a kind of singular way that may be has been the case recently and as you point out we will be looking doing more transactions earlier in the pipeline, sort of earlier clinical and preclinical and the driver behind that actually is that if you do your business development earlier you actually have longer to work with your partner to add value rather than you know bringing things in you know quite later on when to some extent the die is cast, I think the second point is if you do earlier business development the external and internal co-mingle and there isn't quite the same sort of segregation as you get if you are actually doing your business development at a later stage. So we've seen in already this year a number of examples of that, so the Moderna deal that we announced in the March timeframe around the Messenger RNA (TM)in oncology and cardiology [PharmaDeals ID = 51523], we are here at BIO we've announced three transactions this week with BIND [PharmaDeals ID = 52074] with Alchemia [PharmaDeals ID = 52076] and with Horizon [PharmaDeals ID = 52079] from Cambridge in the UK, you know all perhaps somewhat earlier than people have expected the transactions that they've seen from AstraZeneca in recent times.
MedImmune's responsibility with large molecules
Fintan Walton:
Okay, I suppose the other element I mean when you talked about large molecules and small molecules obviously MedImmune [PharmaDeals ID = 27024] has been the company traditionally associated with larger molecules, so MedImmune still exists its responsibility is still are largely within large molecules?
Shaun Grady:
Yes absolutely, so MedImmune is the large molecule bioscience unit headed by Bahija as I mentioned with its own dedicated business development group as previously but the change we have made however is that for later stage projects the later clinical and on market projects the group that will be executing business development will cover both large and small molecules, so in that regard there is been you know a coming together at the later stage business development activity.
Fintan Walton:
So Shaun, in terms of deal types has that changed at all at AstraZeneca?
Shaun Grady:
Not really, I think we've always prided ourselves in looking at the needs of the partner, the needs of AstraZeneca and the subject matter of the transaction to dictate the deal type, so we've done a whole range of deal structures, acquisition, licensing, partnerships, collaboration, so we've never been fixated on one particular approach. I think it's true to say that M&A acquisition is becoming more common and more sort of current as a way of executing on business development, but we don't start a project thinking about, you know we don't need to own and control a particular asset but if that make sense for us and for the partner that's certainly you know where we will be prepared to go. So we've made an acquisition earlier this year in the biologics area of an ( ) LCAT program AlphaCore [PharmaDeals ID = 51760] which was through the company acquisition, so if that make sense for both sides we would be would obviously pursue that.
Future deal strategy
Fintan Walton:
Okay and then Shaun finally just in terms of do you now see AstraZeneca doing more deals, is it going to be more quantity or is it going to be quality?
Shaun Grady:
Yes I think, I mean we've been extraordinarily busy and extraordinarily successful in executing deals, so in 2012 we've done something in excess of 80 significant business development transactions, about a third of which were at the early stage, the academic and preclinical projects and therefore a lot of clinical and on market projects notably the acquisition of Ardea [PharmaDeals ID = 46556], the collaboration with Amgen [PharmaDeals ID = 46253] around inflammation and the one that I would call out in terms of our recent deal activity was the joint acquisition of Amylin with BMS [PharmaDeals ID = 47571] which I think is really quite a special transaction, people talk a lot about innovative deal making and creative deal making well that true that truly was. So we set a high bar in terms of volume. I think the question is spot on, I think what we probably see is greater focus in the therapy areas that I've identified, more rigor around the scientific and technical quality, so you know may be fewer but I don't see a huge drop off in terms of the overall number of transactions that we conclude.
Fintan Walton:
Shaun Grady, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Shaun Grady:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Shaun Grady
Vice President
At the time of recording this PTV interview Shaun Grady serves as VP, Strategic Partnering and Business Development at AstraZeneca. He has global responsibility for the Strategic Partnering and Business Development (SPBD) function, dedicated to broadening AstraZeneca's access to scientific innovation outside our own laboratories - a key strategic priority for AstraZeneca. The scope of his team includes in-licensing, acquisition and partnering activities from early stage Discovery through to on-market commercial opportunities. Shaun originally joined ICI as an attorney and held positions in the Pharmaceuticals, Petrochemicals, and Head Office Legal Departments. Upon the demerger of Zeneca from ICI he was appointed Assistant General Counsel, Corporate. He worked on the merger of Astra and Zeneca, the merger of Zeneca Agrochemicals with Novartis Agribusiness to form Syngenta, and the creation of Avecia.
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a primary focus on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines for gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology and infectious disease. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.