Roche's Approach to Partnering




Episode Loading...




PharmaTelevision requires Javascript enabled and Adobe Flash Player to watch our programmes. If you do not have Flash installed, you can download it for free from the Adobe Flash homepage.

Improve your Internet experience and start watching exciting new video content.

Video title: Roche's Approach to Partnering
Released on: April 14, 2011. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
Share/save this page:
Email
Bookmark
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Follow us:
RSS
Twitter
  • Summary
  • Transcript
  • Participants
  • Company
In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, Fintan Walton talks to Bardia Akbari, Global Head Partnering of Inflammation, Respiratory, and Ophthalmology at Roche
Strategy of partnering
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at Bio-Europe in Milan, in spring 2011. On this show I have Bardia Akbari, who is Global Head of Partnering at Roche specializing in inflammation, respiratory and ophthalmology , welcome to the show.
Bardia Akbari:
Thank you very much.
Fintan Walton:
Bardia, you cover a broad range of therapeutic areas each of them are very specialized, each of them are fundamental to for certain therapeutic areas what's important about each of those areas of course is how we understand the underlying causes of those particular diseases, so somebody who is involved in business development and partnering for Roche what is your strategy for partnering?
Bardia Akbari:
The strategy for partnering for all the diseases that we talked about here there is an immunological underlying and underterm, so if you look at the immunology and look at the basic science for all these diseases at some point they share a pathway, they share a target and they eventually come together, so it's important to understand immunology and the basic immunology and the pathology as related to the immunology it's diseases and then from there you can move on to any specific disease and go to a different pathway and different ways to pursue opportunity for each one, but I would say again the basic understanding of immunology is key for all the diseases that we oversee in this group.
Fintan Walton:
So then from a strategic point of view you need to access the fundamental science that gives us a better insight into the underlying causes of the disease, but at the same time obviously you are trying to fill a pipeline?
Bardia Akbari:
Absolutely.
Fintan Walton:
So how do you do that, how do you approach that particular problem?
Bardia Akbari:
There is a natural progression the scientific breakthrough until it gets to the point that's ready for partnering or licensing in industry, so for someone in our line of work it's important to keep an eye on academic research and on patents to see how the science is progressing you look at nature medicine, nature articles, you go to scientific meeting, review posters and you see how a new target they discover and the information that are gathered on that target support for any disease and after a few years they get to a point that there is a biotech that actually has invested to develop that into a molecule and to a compound. So by following the science and by following the industry to get to a point of maturity for licensing and partnering we are always involved, we talk to the academics, we talk to the biotech's, we talk to the VC and keep an eye on a good science as it progresses.
Roche's strengths and success in partnering
Fintan Walton:
And presumably your competitors are doing the same, so how do you position yourself to make sure that you've got the access to that maturing asset?
Bardia Akbari:
Special relationship with academic. We have recently started a big group that involves that establishes good relationship working relationship with academic institution, we also have great relationship with many of the venture capital firms that we see where the investment going there is the two way street of the exchange of information with venture capitalist and also as usual one thing that you here commonly about our company not only being a great partner but also people enjoying significant interaction with our scientists. So I think our scientist around the world and in the US and in Europe have always distinguished themselves as good scientists to work with, so that's a good attraction for the biotech's and academics who want to work with us.
Fintan Walton:
Now the other important thing of course is how, you've mentioned how you are perceived potentially by scientist, by other scientists and so forth when it comes to actually partnering and actually going to do the deal how would you measure Roche against other companies?
Bardia Akbari:
Very recently a Boston Consulting Group survey came out that established Roche repeatedly as the best in class partner and there are many reasons that Roche could be considered best class under perception and the biotech industry has about Roche is extremely positive, we have been known through years to be very flexible in deal making, so the deals that we make with a partner allows the partner to grow as well as sit on the table and be active participant in a development and discovery of the molecule that they have invented. Our commercial capability is exceptional if you look at the number of compounds that we have made successful commercial story from Avastin, herceptin, pegasys we are very strong commercial organization and finally I would say as far as the research and development organization we are extremely strong globally, so those are all very attractive for a partner for biotech who want to bring their compounds to us and work with us because we bring significant value to that opportunity.
Relationship with Alliance management group
Fintan Walton:
And obviously the other component to that is the alliance management component so once you get the deal obviously it's keeping it alive and progressing that relationship, so is that is alliance management inside under your remit or is it in the separate part of Roche?
Bardia Akbari:
It is within the partnering organization and now under my reign its specifically within partnering organization and long time ago we have recognized that the best thing we can do for our partners have a dedicated alliance manager for each partnership that nurtures that partnership have had successful relationship with the biotech because of that reason and we continue too, have a very big group of professionalized manager in San Francisco, in Switzerland and in Nutley and that have the role of managing the alliances.
Fintan Walton:
Okay, now going back to the deals themselves one of the things that you've mentioned is that you know you are flexible, you are perceived to be flexible in your deals that you do, from your experience have deals changed are they becoming more complex or they getting more simple, because obviously that flexibility means that we are not going doing simple deals anymore they are much more complex?
Bardia Akbari:
The complexity of the deal comes from the nature of the economic structure in a country and the way that's going and the strategy that a partner would like to take. We say we are flexible because we always keep in mind that what is the partner want to do after the deal is done, for us we put the product first we develop the product to bring it to the patient as quickly as possible but there are plans for the biotech to go and do what they wanna do to grow being a development organization, being a commercial organization so in that nature the deals are more complex, but having being doing these type of deals years after year for us it's rather simple not this one to be able to structure a deal that's suitable both for a biotech and for us.
Potential of Biologics and stem cell research
Fintan Walton:
Right, and within the therapeutic areas that you cover there are more biologic based products being used for therapy in those particular areas?
Bardia Akbari:
You've just seen that we have immunology plenty of biologics (indiscernable).
Fintan Walton:
And is that something that you think would continue or are we going to move either back to small molecules or is there a potential to move into stem cell research?
Bardia Akbari:
Stem cell area is quite interesting but still it's in infancy stages as far as the pharmaceutical development is concerned. In terms of the biologic there is a safety threshold that's being put on the candidates for many of the diseases that we are looking at or been interested in, I do see area of the biologics to remain very strong moving forward both on understanding of the biology and area of immunology it's easier let's call it quote on quote to be grafted to biologic, the small molecules have their challenges and I think that challenges will continue, so I expect the area of biologics to grow and do greater than they are at this point.
Acquisition of Marcadia
Fintan Walton:
Right, now we talked about you know doing deals, collaborative deals, licensing based deals, Roche did an acquisition of a company Marcadia [PharmaDeals ID = 38681] back in December, why did Roche acquired Marcadia?
Bardia Akbari:
Wonderful question, that deal started the conversation with Marcadia started around licensing the company and it goes to the conversation we early had about the flexibility of deal, as the conversation and negotiation with Marcadia continued Roche realized that the scientific input that we can have from some of the founders of those companies and some of the collaborators of the company could be better utilized in our continuation of effort in a metabolic diseases if we are able to acquire the company, so that turned from a licensing to acquisition it was both beneficial for the partner for Marcadia and also for us for accessing the science, so that's how that deal went about.
Activities of Roche ventures
Fintan Walton:
Right, the other component that Roche has is the venture arm you've got Roche ventures, how does ventures work alongside your own activities?
Bardia Akbari:
The venture arm of Roche works independent of the licensing activities, so they make investment based on the decision by independent decision maker. We do provide input to the venture funds and the ventures provide input to us as far as the opportunity that they would consider appropriate for licensing or business development to be involved meanwhile both group make their own decisions independently.
Future plans
Fintan Walton:
Sure, and you head up again these three therapy areas what do you see developing over the next few years, what areas do you see within each of those therapy areas that you see Roche particularly moving into?
Bardia Akbari:
New areas that I would say based on recent scientific breakthrough or the recent publications that have come out, I would grow in fibrosis , I mean with the approval of Pirfenidone in Europe the regulatory path or disease such as pulmonary fibrosis is becoming more clear, so I would see based under scientific breakthrough then also based under regulatory input there fibrosis would be something that in an area of inflammation we would invest further and moving forward there. The other area probably I would highlight is lupus with the historic approval of benlysta this is another area that regulatory path is becoming more clear, the science is becoming more clear so we would expand in that area in addition to arthritis , asthma and inflammatory bowel disease that we were historically working at.
Fintan Walton:
Bardia, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Bardia Akbari:
Thank you very much for having me.
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).
Bardia Akbari
Global Head Partnering
Dr. Bardia Akbari , serves as Global Head Partnering at Roche Partnering in Switzerland, overseeing many of the key global alliances focused on inflammatory disease. His previous positions include: Global Study Manager and Clinical Operations Manger at Roche. Whilst conducting his post-doctoral fellowship at Rutgers he additionally ran the US clinical trials within Roche Medical Affairs. As such he has gained extensive experience in global responsibility of planning and carrying out clinical development programs for new compounds to treat auto-immune diseases.
PharmaVentures
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.
Roche
Roche Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is a leader in research-focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is the world's largest biotech company with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, virology, inflammation, metabolism and CNS. Roche is also the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics, tissue-based cancer diagnostics and a pioneer in diabetes management. Roche's personalized healthcare strategy aims at providing medicines and diagnostic tools that enable tangible improvements in the health, quality of life and survival of patients. In 2008, Roche had over 80,000 employee worldwide and invested almost 9 billion Swiss francs in R&D. The Group posted sales of 45.6 billion Swiss francs. Genentech, United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche has a majority stake in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan.